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Hillary and Jackie will make you forget about any musical biography you've seen before. This movie grabs you from the very beginning and never lets go. It will exhaust you and, at the same time, give you a greater appreciation for genius, music and acting.  

Taken from the book A Genius in the Family by Hilary and Piers du Pre, Hilary and Jackie tells the wrenching, real-life story of renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pre (Emily Watson) and her sister Hilary (Rachel Griffiths).  

Before she died at 42 from multiple sclerosis, Jacqueline du Pre was considered one of the world's greatest musicians. Her signature piece, Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor, graces the movie as much as Fran Cottrell Boyce's script, Anand Tucker's direction and the fabulous portrayals of its actors. 

Hilary and Jackie is told in three parts. The first segment revolves around the sisters' youth and early competitions. The second recounts the story of Hilary's marriage to musician and farmer Kieffer (David Morrissey). The third details Jackie's jump to fame, her marriage to conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim (James Fraim), her breakdown and the onslaught of MS. 

The movie begins at the beginning, showing us the special bond between the two sisters (Keely Flanders as Hilary and Auriol Evans as Jackie). They were rivals, but loving rivals, and early on the movie makes the point that comes home to roost -- they shared everything.  

The du Pres, though happy and nurturing, doted on success. When the girls were young, flute-playing Hilary was the star and appeared to be the family favorite. Jackie, seeking the same parental approval and love that success granted Hilary, pushes herself until her skill equals, then surpasses her sister's. But Jackie never entirely outgrows the stigma of being "second best." The resulting insecurities hound Jackie all her life, despite her success, and lead to horrific consequences. 

Lacking the same drive as her sister, Hilary seeks refuge from the competitive musical world by marrying the gentle Kieffer, a musician content with the simple life. She settles into what appears to be a loving marriage. But the marriage is tested beyond belief with the distraught Jackie appears at the farm. 

Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths give spellbinding performances -- performances that you'll remember for a long time. Griffiths has the less showy role, but her portrayal will haunt you. Griffiths shows just how hard it is to be happy, no matter how perfect your situation appears to outsiders.  

Watson dazzles. You believe she is Jacqueline du Pre. Her portrayal of the artist as genius -- the highs and lows of life on the road, the glamour of the performance and parties, the loneliness of the hotel room and the half-hearted longing for a more normal life -- are mind-blowing. Her battle with MS will pierce your soul. 

Don't miss this movie. One seldom finds flawless direction, beautiful music, and unbelievable acting all in the same film.  

Joan Fuchsman 

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