Hilary and Jackie tells the fact-based story of sisters Jacqueline and Hilary du Pre. The film opens with Jacqueline (Emily Watson) and Hilary (Rachel Griffiths) as little girls. Both girls are forced to play instruments by their parents, but Jacqueline is clearly the superior musician. As time passes, the lives of the two sisters sharply diverge. Jacqueline becomes an internationally celebrated virtuoso cellist and marries the famed conductor and pianist, Daniel Barenboim (James Frain). Hilary, meanwhile, becomes a rather ordinary flautist who plays for a community orchestra and marries a second-tier composer named Christopher Finzi (David Morrissey). Though Jacqueline appears to have everything, she suffers from severe emotional turmoil and ultimately has a nervous breakdown. Despite the fact that she often treats Hilary shabbily, her sister helps nurse her back to health, even as her health increasingly deteriorates. Hilary and Jackie tells the story of sisterly love and how it can survive even the most difficult circumstances.