As I have been playing the cello for many years, the name Jacqueline Du Pre has always meant something to me, even if I didn’t really know that much about her. With Hilary and Jackie, a somewhat controversial biopic, adapted from the 1997 memoir A Genius in the Family, I was made wise to the life and brilliance of the talented cellist who tragically died in 1987.
Although since the release of the film people who knew Jackie have said this is not the portrait of the women they knew, it is still a stunning, emotional and beautiful account of a talent snatched away from the world prematurely.
Emily Watson is wonderful as Jackie (I had only previously seen her as the rather masculine sister of Mr Ward in Miss Potter), and handles Jacqueline’s illness, when it arrives, very movingly.
The Sunday Times’ comment that is splashed across the DVD cover, “One of the Best British Films of the Decade” is in no way hyperbolic. This is striking, superb British drama.
Hilary and Jackie (1998), directed by Anand Tucker, is released on DVD in the UK by Channel 4 DVD, Certificate 15.