CINEMA: PIANO FORTE

SHINE--THE TRIUMPHANT MUSIC THAT OSCAR LOVES

He is mad--schizophrenic, to be exact--but it's a nice mad, not angry or morose. In a spray of wildly allusive wordplay, David Helfgott natters compulsively, cheerfully, to himself. Popular cinema loves head cases, especially when their condition is as endearing as David's. Because he was once a pianist of great promise, and because his is a true story, Helfgott is an ideal vessel for the awe and pity of the middle-class moviegoer in search of an elevating experience. Shine, an entertaining, way-too-canny Australian film written by Jan Sardi and directed by Scott Hicks, encourages a kind of emotional slumming--upward.

David (played...

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