Hilary and Jackie

1998 Drama

Perhaps inspired by the success of biopics like Shine and Amadeus, this film based on a true story -- and a book (entitled A Genius in the Family) -- also focuses on the destructive forces of being a musical genius. Hilary and Jacqueline du Pré are gifted sisters who grow up in England in the 1950s and compete for musical accolades and love. Hilary (Rachel Griffiths) is a talented flutist, but it's her younger sister, Jackie (Breaking the Waves' Emily Watson), who is the musical "genius" cellist. The film follows their sibling rivalry in musical competition and romance. Though extremely close as children, it is younger sister Jackie who eventually becomes the international star, marrying top pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. Hilary marries her true love, Kiffer Finzi (David Morrissey), and settles in a beautiful country home with her two children. But who is jealous of whom? Hilary receives an unexpected visit from Jackie, asking her sister for a chance to live a normal life and to sleep with Kiffer. Later, Jackie suffers from multiple sclerosis, and the sisters strive to repair the emotional damage of their long-standing rivalry. more..

Director: Anand Tucker

Starring: Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths, David Morrissey, James Frain, Charles Dance


  • One of the most insightful and wrenching portraits of the joys and tribulations of being a classical musician ever filmed.

    Stephen Holden - The New York Times

    26 April 2013

  • Emily Watson is ravishingly good -- and brings an amazing focus and intensity to what could have been a disease-of-the-week picture.

    Edward Guthmann - The San Francisco Chronicle

    26 April 2013

  • Neither the stars' harmonious interplay nor director Anand Tucker's insistent urbanity of camera work can disguise that the cello drama is melodrama.

    - Entertainment Weekly

    26 April 2013

  • The movie makes no attempt to soften the material or make it comforting through the cliches of melodrama.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    26 April 2013

  • First-time feature director Tucker displays an astonishingly assured touch, allowing his phenomenal cast to creep into their characters' skins and surrounding them with images of shimmering and slightly threatening beauty.

    Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide

    26 April 2013


  • Best Actress in a Leading Role

    Academy Awards (1999)

  • Andy Paterson

    BAFTA Awards (1999)

  • Best Actress

    British Independent Film Awards (1999)

  • Best Actress

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (1999)

  • Best Actress

    Chlotrudis Awards (1999)