Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Emily Watson is ravishingly good -- and brings an amazing focus and intensity to what could have been a disease-of-the-week picture.
  2. 100
    It is a triumph, and one of 1998's few "don't miss" motion pictures.
  3. One of the most insightful and wrenching portraits of the joys and tribulations of being a classical musician ever filmed.
  4. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Neither the stars' harmonious interplay nor director Anand Tucker's insistent urbanity of camera work can disguise that the cello drama is melodrama.
  5. 90
    This sensitively directed film is one of those rarest of accomplishments: a graceful work of art about the very creation of art itself.
  6. Reviewed by: Joshua Klein
    An astoundingly moving and elegiac meditation on life, love, music, and the bonds of blood.
  7. It takes two to be sisters, two to have a rivalry, and two exceptional actresses to turn Hilary and Jackie into a compelling look at the most intimate and troubling of family dynamics.
  8. 88
    The movie makes no attempt to soften the material or make it comforting through the cliches of melodrama.
  9. 80
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: Jimmy Fowler
    The movie felt fresh and resonant in spite of its overall familiarity.
  11. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Told from both women's points of view, this fascinating, if sometimes overwrought, tale packs a wallop.
  12. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    Eye-grabbing performances from Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths, who portray celebrated British cellist Jacqueline Du Pre and her older sister, Hilary, distinguish this ambitious but flawed biography.
  13. Hilary and Jackie plumbs the cistern of family dysfunction and musical genius to profound and haunting effect.
  14. The movie is exquisitely directed by Anand Tucker in an anti-documentary style that sometimes fractures the time sequence, sometimes re-creates moments impressionistically instead of objectively and is vivid in style.
  15. 75
    Gripping in purely cinematic terms as an imaginatively told tale of sibling rivalry and the pressures of great expectations.
  16. The wildly ambitious but flawed biographical film about the English cellist Jacqueline du Pré.
  17. 70
    The sense of period, of ungainly English pride, is funny and acute, but the movie mislays its sense of wit as the girls grow up.
  18. For all its knock-'em-dead acting and aggressively stylish direction, Hilary and Jackie is still best described as arthouse comfort food.
  19. Hilary and Jackie tries far too hard to dictate emotional involvement right out of the gate, and you're left counting off the doom-laden cues for things that are sure to return full circle.
  20. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    As drama, Hilary and Jackie is merely sketchy and superficial. As a portrait of the artist, it's puritanical crap.
  21. Reviewed by: Allan Ulrich
    You may have surmised that Americans have held the copyright on turning out awful movies about serious musicians (especially musicians with physical or mental afflictions), but along comes the high-gloss weepie.

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