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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 2 May 2009
This film is just stunning. Everything about it is beautiful. In case you don't know what it's about, it follows the story of the famous cellist - the late Jacqueline du Pré, up until she is tragically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and dies. I think all the actors are amazing - but Emily Watson (who plays Jackie) - who I think is consistently very believable and mesmerising, and often enchanting, and Rachel Griffiths (who plays Jackie's sister) who gives a sturdy memorable performance as often being in Jacqueline's shadow and clearly in emotional pain. I adore the music - particularly when Jackie plays the stunning Elgar's cello concerto, which is utterly moving, but I love the way the whole thing has been put together. This film is one that will stay with you and won't ever be forgotten, and also you will need your tissues, especially at one point in the film when Jackie is sitting in her wheelchair after the MS has made her a prisoner in her own body, and she can't play the cello anymore, and she listens to a record of her playing the Elgar cello concerto, and breaks down. It is incredibly moving and sad, and always brings the tears on for me. But don't let that put you off, please watch this film as it is truly one of the best films I've ever seen - if not the best.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 August 2011
SAFE READING - NO SPOILERS

For details of the DVD, see the product information.

Many audiences and television viewers remember Jacqueline du Pre as the smiling, vivacious and beautiful lady with the flowing blonde hair and the cello firmly held between her legs completely lost in her music, eyes staring, unseeing, into the middle distance. A prodigious talent from her earliest years capable of stunning, note-perfect and evocative performances, apparently without too many hours of practice, she took the music world by storm, making many of the famous cello pieces her own and her performances touchstones for others to follow, often with her husband, Daniel Barenboim, another child prodigy.
This behind-the-scenes film sketches in a fuller picture, some of which is supported by biographical information but not necessarily in the way it is depicted, to create another life and not one necessarily wanted by lovers of her music.
To see an ordinary individual overwhelmed by multiple-sclerosis (MS) is heart-rending and moving enough but to witness such a world-renowned and respected talent succumb to MS and see the certainty of movement reduced to uncontrolled shudders and the purity of sound into discordant scrapes, is enough to reduce the toughest viewers to tears. Great credit to the team film-makers and actors.
A quality film worth watching but be prepared to be swept along in a maelstrom of your deepest emotions as it takes you into the highs and lows of a memorable life but one which highlights the uncertain and fragile nature of human existence. "Carpe diem".
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This is an outstanding film with bravura performances by all the actors and actresses who grace it. Emily Watson is dazzling as world-renowned cellist, Jacqueline Du Pre, and Rachel Griffiths gives a heartwarming portrayal of Hilary, the more grounded Du Pre sister. British director Anand Tucker does a masterful job of capturing and exploring the often complex and symbiotic relationship between these two sisters, one of whom reaches heights in the music world of which most may only dream.
Most of the film is bifurcated in that it is told from the perspective of each of the sisters, with the same scenarios being viewed through the eyes of one sister at any given time. The film opens with a scene of the young sisters playing on the beach, with an enigmatic adult figure on the shore whom the younger of the sisters, Jackie, approaches. They speak, but what transpires between the young Jackie and this solitary figure is only made manifest at the conclusion of the film.
The viewer is then thrust into the Du Pre household, where it is clear that their lives revolve around music, with Jackie playing the cello and Hilary the flute. A pivotal moment in the film occurs when Hilary is invited to participate in a televised children's concert, and Jackie is not. Jackie is told by their mother that if she wishes to get such an invitation that she must play better.
This is an edict that Jackie takes to heart and adopts with abandon, becoming relentless in her devotion to the cello, until it is she, and not Hilary, who becomes the one in demand and the one to whom slavish attention is given. This is a portent of things to come. Therein lies the seed for the subtle rivalry that is to last their entire lives, though they remain as close as two sisters can be. Jackie goes on to become one of the world's most renowned cellists.
That Hilary sublimates herself to her sister is obvious, even when ballroom dancing together, as it is Jackie who leads Hilary. This was to remain the pattern for most of their respective lives. While the shy and seemingly insecure Hilary eventually marries a man who makes her feel special and important, it is Jackie who continues to dazzle, even in the marriage arena, marrying a world class pianist with whom she makes beautiful music, until she is struck by a fatal illness.
As Jackie's world spirals out of control, Hilary is leading the placid life of a country squiress, having children and playing at local concerts, happily married to a man who is clearly devoted to her. Jackie intrudes on their idyllic life, and in her frenetic fashion turns their world upside down during a visit sans her husband, when she obviously horns in on Hilary's husband. What happens next is sure to shock even the most jaded of viewers.
As Jackie grows more successful in the music world, her personal life spirals out of control. Her passion for the cello is often countermanded by the pains she takes to try to divest herself of the demanding instrument that seemingly controls her life, as her passion and musical genius begin to consume her to the exclusion of all else. Her tortured soul is finally set free, when she succumbs to her fatal illness, a lonely and tragic figure at the end, mourned most of all by Hilary.
This is a movie that music lovers and anyone who loves a beautifully directed and well-acted film will appreciate and enjoy.
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VINE VOICEon 13 March 2004
I thought this was a beautifully presented and thought provoking rendition of the story of Hilary and Jackie. It is a dark story and is not for the faint hearted. It certainly stirs the mind and can be quite disturbing at times.
The film is split into two parts. One half of the film follows the life of Jackie and the other half follows the life of Hillary. It is very well done. And gives insight into the lives of these two musically gifted sisters.
Don't expect too much of a happy ending, best to watch this film with somebody as it left me crying at the end!
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on 18 June 2011
This film is based on the book written by the sister and brother of Jacqueline du Pre,the musical prodigy who was tragically struck down in her prime by multiple sclerosis.It is a difficult film to watch as it pulls no punches in describing relationships within the Du Pre family.It was heavily criticised at the time of release as friends of Jackie said that it portrayed an unfair picture of her.
Nevertheless the performances of the main protagonists are excellent and the viewer is certainly given plenty to think about.
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on 15 September 2010
As lover of the music of Edward Elgar and the sound of the cello and the performance by Jacquelin Du Pre' it was a very great experience to watch this film about the relationship between Jackie and her sister Hillary (with Emely Watson as Jackie and Rachel Griffiths as Hillary) and jackies longing to be loved and to be cared for. Very tuching. Five stars for authenticity, acting and music, with Elgars cello concerto in Eminor as the theme.
Carsten Groa
Denmark
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on 13 September 2000
Without ever having been aware of who either Hilary or Jackie du Pre' were or the details of their amazing lives, I viewed the film with an open mind and found it to be one of the most powerful and emotional films I have seen. David Johnson's cinematography is amazing, capturing the pure heart break of the sisters relationship combined with an eye for colour and composition that only the likes of Sacha Vierny(p. Greenaways Collaborator) has managed in recent years. It is impossible not to be drawn into the characters who are sketched out in full blooded detail with subtle yet affect contadictions. Anyone and everyone, what ever your preconceptions of the sisters and events surrounding their life love and music, should take the time to view this true classic even if only for the amazing Emily Watson who is fast becoming the greatest actress in current cinema.
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on 26 May 2000
A thought-provoking film that mixes acknowledged fact and disputed speculation to present a view of an artist's life. As a work of fiction it would probably be an interesting examination of the price of genius. I, though, could not escape from the fact that I knew who all the major characters were supposed to be and ultimately felt that the film had appealed most of all to the voyeur in me. In many ways, direct and indirect, this film exposes how genius such as Jacqueline du Pré's is exploited and it is perhaps most valuable for that.
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on 29 April 2004
First of all i say must I love music & the cello as an instrument. When isaw this movie I could not help but mesmerised by the talent of charactersjust beautiful, appealing performances. The most enjoyable part is whereJackie plays with her husband on piano & at the end he says "thats how Ushould play Beethoven" an outstanding cast. No doubt an extremely wellwritten story line unbelievable when jackie asks for Hilary's husband forthe night how! The fact that its based on real life events of Jackie makesit more absorbing & stays in your mind for some time.I would give this 10stars if i could. Purchase it before it goes out of print. Even though ithas a sad ending of Jackie perishing away the disease I think this movieis AN ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE IN YOUR DVD COLLECTION.
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on 6 January 2005
Other reviews give the details for the film, but just to note that its main attraction for me is the stunning music - both the Elgar and the other score-music. The soundtrack is fantastic. Also, apart from ideas of genius and brilliance, mostly this film, for me, is about family life and family relationships - and those of mother/daughter and sister/sister are moving, outrageous, touching, beautiful, everyday, boring, frustrating - all those things that being part of a family involve.
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