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August Rush

2007 film starring Freddie Highmore and Keri Russell directed by Kirsten Sheridan

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Improbable Prodigy

  • Apr 1, 2008
  • by
Whether or not the implausible plot of director Kirsten Sheridan's 2007 "August Rush" makes much sense or not, the film moves with its own frenetic momentum; the urgent momentum of the music heard inside the head of its main character Evan Taylor a.k.a. August Rush (played by the serious Freddie Highmore of "Finding Neverland"), musical genius extraordinaire of the caliber of a latter-day Amadeus Mozart.

Ordinary sounds like that of the grass blowing in the breeze and the wind hitting an old brass wind chime filter through this child's brain and transform to melodies of symphonic perfection. From the first few opening frames of the film, there is no doubt in the mind of the viewer that Evan definitely possesses that quirky quality akin to all masterminds, be it the mathematical autistic savant speaking in logarithms or yet another John Nash hearing aliens speak to him through glimpses of magazine and newspaper text. Through almost monotonous repetition, Sheridan insures that the audience immerses itself in sensing yet not fully understanding this wondrous creative treat--how often do we get to explore the mind of someone of higher perceptive powers?

Making use of his unique gift, Evan, living in a home for boys, decides that hearing his personal compositions will provide the means to bring his parents to him in a lyrical happy-ever-after. We hear his music too (thanks to Mark Mancina's soundtrack) and like the fairytale rats of Hamlin follow this Pied Piper to the streets of New York City where Evan becomes synonymous with Dicken's Oliver Twist complete with an acoustic guitar toting Artful Dodger and somewhat manic-prone-to-violence Fagan (a cowboy hat wearing mutton-chopped Robin Williams.)

As Evan wanders through the arch in Washington Square and the abandoned Filmore East Theatre in pursuit of his music, we flash back and forth from the moment of his conception by rock star Louis (the ever intense Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and classical cellist Lyla (America's sweetheart Keri Russell.) Separated by factions that again seem conjured from a world replete with evil stepmothers, the two live their floundering lives in different cities fully conscious of the black hole created by their estranged existences.

As Evan's musical ability purrs into a startling fifth gear, the trio moves steadily towards each other like a convergence of heavenly bodies in the night sky in a somewhat wannabe facsimile of a Christmas miracle exemplified with a hopeful magical star. ZZZZzzzzzzz . . .

Bottom line? Although "August Rush" assembles a fine group of actors to play out one boy's musical rhapsody with all the trimmings, the overall presentation seems overly slick--dusted with a coating of improbable sweetness that may work for family fare if a double dose of sugar is in order but does not contain enough real poignancy to satisfy an adult viewer. Instead, the film mirrors a tale out of Dickens with all the convenient serendipity and none of the genuine menace to elicit human response or concern. Highmore pours on the spacey-ness with an almost beatific grin and glow that the best of the litany of saints cannot duplicate while Russell and Rhys Meyers come together with a too-perfect simplicity that moves like a sticky snowball at the light speed of the music. Williams plays this one too over the top for me--he tries for three dimensional when only one is needed. Recommended for those who like sweet predictable fairytales.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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More August Rush reviews
review by . April 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: enchanting, uplifting, and engaging tale     Cons: not realistic enough for some viewers     The Bottom Line: An instant favorite for me, and one I'll be sharing with others for years to come.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. You know what music is? God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, …
review by . April 03, 2009
You know, I'm all for a sappy happy bubbly ending. Really. I'm a happy kinda girl and I like things that end on a positive note. Positive... but at least somewhat plausible.    I'm going to totally beyond all reason spoil the ending here- so don't read if you haven't seen.     A boy who can "hear" his parents in the "music" of nature? Ok fine, I'll believe it. A boy who has incredible musical talent without any training whatsoever? Alright. A couple who chat …
review by . December 19, 2008
"Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind... in the air... in the light. It's all around us."   Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):   1.   Boy musician (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) meets girl musician (Keri Russell) and they make beautiful music up on the roof before going their separate ways 2.   Little orphan boy (Freddie Highmore) hears music in the wind and feels a connection to the parents he never knew 3.   Desperately seeking …
review by . November 24, 2008
Pros: ...     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line:    “But God bless the child thats got his own  Thats got his own” ~Chris Botti and Paula Cole      This is a strange mixture of Romeo & Juliet along with Oliver as we bring together Lyla, uber-rich and talented cellist, and Louis, equally talented street-smart, bass player.  Lyla plays in the ultra chic venue and Louis plays in smoke filled bars.  …
review by . July 06, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
'August Rush' is, as best, hard to describe. It's not a musical, but it's a movie about music, where music forms the emotional backbone of the story. It's not a fantasy, but the story it tells has elements that can only be described as fantastic. It's not a 'family film' is the traditional sense, though it is a movie the the whole family can watch, enjoy, and appreciate on many levels.    'August Rush' tells the story of a young boy, conceived on a magical night between a pair …
review by . October 21, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Concept in general, tone, pacing, acting      Cons: While some of the music is good, it is mostly incomplete    The Bottom Line: Prodigy stories are common, the emotion and motive behind this one is different and worth a look so long as you know it will be sappy.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. It is rare for this reviewer to watch a film I know will probably drown me in sap, but mood …
review by . March 19, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
AUGUST RUSH will not go down in history as a profound film: many will even go so far as to dismiss it as kitsch, maudlin, and a simpleton take off on 'Oliver Twist', and other pejoratives. For this viewer the little film is tender and frequently requires suspension of belief, but in the end the idea of the story does indeed bring a tear to the eye.    Based on a story by Paul Castro and Nick Castle and transformed for the screen by Castle and James V. Hart, the premise is that …
review by . March 12, 2008
This is more than a feel good movie. It is a beautiful story about a boy searching for his parents. He goes about his quest listening to the music all around him. Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are great. Russell's performance is truly excellent. She is cellist who becomes pregnant after one night with a bad singer. Throughout the movie, she searches for her son. Freddie Highmore is a fantastic actor. His face never lost that innocence and hopefulness that made the movie fantastic. The story …
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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About this movie


AUGUST RUSH is part romance, part gentle fantasy, but this sweet drama is all heart. When young cellist Lyla (Keri Russell) and rock musician Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) meet at a party in the mid 1990s, it's love at first sight, and they spend the night in each other's arms. But Lyla's father forces them apart, even though she later learns she's pregnant. Later, an accident lands Lyla in the hospital, and though her father tells her that her baby died, the child survives and is given up for adoption. AUGUST RUSH jumps to the present and begins to follow Evan (Freddie Highmore), an 11 year old who has grown up in a boys' home. As Evan embarks on a crusade to find his parents, he imagines he can communicate with them through his gift for music. His journey to New York City brings him into contact with Wizard (Robin Williams), a man eager to capitalize on the child prodigy's talent. Wizard gives Evan the name August Rush as he begins performing all over the city, but the boy's ultimate goal is to find the...
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Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Genre: Drama
Release Date: November 21, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Nick Castle, Jr., Jim V. Hart
DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010
Runtime: 1hr 53min
Studio: Warner Home Video
First to Review

"Beautiful film"
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