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, even the stars." ~ Wizard
Once upon a time, there were two musicians. Lyla, a lovely and talented cellist with the NY Philharmonic, and Louis, a young Irish bassist in a budding rock band. They know nothing of each other and only their love of Music seems to bridge their very different lives. Some people believe that Music is a sacred and magical thing though, inexplicable and powerful beyond imagination. Some believe that everything in the Universe makes its own Music, and in moments of peace, bliss, or balance... we can hear this divine music being created around us all the time.
One fateful night, Lyla and Louis heard the Music playing and found each other. For that one magical night, everything comes together in just the right way,at just the right time. Lyla and Louis look on in wonder, embracing the moment and entwining their fates forever. The joy the found in that moment is never meant to last though. Circumstances and one misguided and over-controlling parent leave Lyla and Louis stranded in the wide world without each other or their music. Neither Lyla, the lonely princess in her tower, nor Louis, the wandering warrior prince, know that their son is alive and searching for them.
Evan, our enchanted young hero, is certain that the Music of Life which he hears all the time, is his only sure way to find his lost parents. Evan, in his innocence, is certain that this marvelous music will lead him to exactly where and when he needs to be. So, our young hero sets off on what may be the most important quest he will ever undertake. How will the big bad city receive our fey young hero? Will he find friends or monsters? Can he, against all hope, fulfill his heart's desire and find his parents? Can he hold firm to the Music that reaches out to guide him? Evan himself will tell you what's in store before he has even begun his journey... "Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales."
~~~~~~~~~ My Thoughts ~~~~~~~~~~
"What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that." (Wizard)
James Morrison was originally offered the role of Louis Connelly, but he turned it down to concentrate on his music. I not only accept that, I applaud it. It certainly gave Jonathan Rhys Myers the opportunity to shine, and I can honestly say that I would never have guessed that someone else intended for this role. Myers is a versatile and talented actor, but I especially enjoy those roles in which he sings. He conveys something almost indefinable that bypasses things like talent or ability, and simply speaks of a love for Music.
I appreciate that under any circumstances, but a role like that of Louis Connelly is designed to illustrate the powerfully mystical and intuitive Bardic connection to Music, as well as the void we live in when we reject such a vital part of our selves. Myers conveys the cold practicality of Louis as a businessman who has severed his spiritual ties to Music and given himself to more profitable and tangible pursuits very well, but his portrayal of Louis when he is whole and embracing Music is so believable, so natural that it feels like something within us, the viewers, unclenches in response. The actor's native accent has a liquid and musical grace of it's own that compliments the role wonderfully. When he is singing, his body language and vocal inflection puts us completely in the moment and evokes an emotional response to what the character is experiencing.
We are less certain of Lyla simply because she is less certain of herself. Her father is so driven to see her succeed in the arena of Music that we are given the sense that Lyla actually resents her lack of freedom more than she loves Music. This is something I think that everyone can relate to on a personal level to some extent. For all her talent, she seems far less certain, less connected to the divine energy of Music until the moment she realizes that those flashes of intuition she was suppressing for eleven years were true and trying to serve her. Lyla beautifully illustrates how we undermine ourselves in matters of intuition and faith.
We are almost always taught from a young age to listen only to "reason", which typically means that we have been painstakingly trained to become our own worst enemy whenever we need to step outside the bounds of what is easily defined. Yet somewhere deep within, Lyla knows that her intuition is guiding her more truly than pure reason ever could. For a long time she rejects those impulses as merely wishful thinking, but when she discovers that her child is alive in the world somewhere without her, she awakens. Suddenly, the Music flows from her, and like Evan she is certain that somehow playing the Music that lives within her heart will lead her to her lost child.
Originally, both Claire Daines and Liv Tyler were considered for this role. Keri Russell delivers such a compellingly human and real Lyla that I simply could not imagine anyone else in the role. She gives a delicacy and innocence to Lyla that draws viewers in, and shows the unshakable certainty and fierce protectiveness that every mother feels so well that it is easy to empathize with Lyla. Russell's considerable skills are subtle but inescapable in the role of Lyla, as she wakes within viewers a strong desire to see faith rewarded with success. The chemistry between Lyla and Louis is believable, and the enchantment and tragedy displayed through their relationship throughout the film definitely lends itself well to the fairytale flavor of August Rush.
Robin Williams gives us an interesting performance as Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace. The character is like some oddly broken cross between a musical genius and Fagan from Oliver, with just a hint of Bono in his demeanor. Wizard understands the miraculous power of Music, but he seems hopelessly damaged by the dark nights of the soul he has experienced. How can you expound upon the sacred and spiritual nature of Music, and then justify exploiting the musical talents of street children for your own monetary gain?
Personally, I enjoy when Williams takes on a role portraying the darker side of humanity as I think he does it very well. Williams has a remarkable gift for humor, but he also has a keen understanding of the far less likable aspects of humanity. Roles like Wizard allows Williams to display his considerable skill as a Coyote, a sacred clown who teaches through humor and displaying the wrong way to handle any situation.
Freddie Highmore as Evan, Jamia Simone Nash, and Leon Thomas III as Arthur (Artful Dodger to Williams' Fagan) are real gems. Highmore gives us the innocence and divine connection necessary for the character of Evan in a perfectly natural and seemingly effortless manner. Nash, as the aptly named Hope, has a smaller role than the more prominent Arthur, but she is wholly delightful in her depiction. She is like an angel of inspiration for Evan, wise and innocent both, and a wonderful foil for putting Evan where he needs to be both musically and physically.
Arthur is absolutely priceless. Street-wise and independent in ways that many adults are not, it is sometimes difficult to remember that Arthur is still just a child trying to deal with a heart-rending situation. We see his jealousy of the attention, praise and gifts showered on Evan by Wizard and cannot help a swell of sorrow for this young man with no family, no true home. We wonder if he will follow Wizard's shadowy example or choose instead the bright path Evan is blazing. Only time will tell. While I hope to see more from all three of these young actors, I hope even more that none of them will fall into the many pitfalls and traps that come with being a child actor.
"You never quit on your music. No matter what happens. Cuz anytime something bad happens to you, that's the one place you can escape to and just let it go. I learned it the hard way. And anyway, look at me. Nothing bad's gonna happen. You gotta have a little faith." ~ Louis
The wonderful cast, solid directing, marvelous soundtrack, talented writing and everyday settings really come together to deliver a truly inspirational story. This lovely urban fairy tale is beautifully wrought, and focuses on one of my favorite topics, the Beauty and Sacred nature of Music. Like Evan, I have caught snatches of this wonderful music that seems to be formed continuously and naturally by all the things in the Universe around us since I was a child.
This underlying beat can be formed by wind, passing conversations, trees, birds, traffic, debris rattling down the street and a thousand other unconventional instruments. In moments of meditation, silence, or spiritual balance this Beauty of sound will swell like a well-orchestrated symphony, lending even more to the moment. To me, all forms of Music are sacred, powerful and healing, but perhaps none is quite so elusive or enchanting. So, I empathize with our young hero in a way that other viewers may not.
This tale is not meant to be a factual account of a boy in an orphanage looking for his parents, or his parents discovering his existence and searching for him. This is an innocent tale illustrating pure and desirable concepts like Faith, Love, Hope and Charity... all of which have become increasingly rare in today's rather jaded and spiritually disconnected society. How delightful to find that Hollywood can actually produce something so lovely and wholesome!
Despite my glowing review of this film, I am quite certain that it is not for everyone. Many will not find the fairytale blend of magic and innocence appealing, or will find it simply too unrealistic to be worth the view time. Having some idea of what you are walking into will, hopefully, allow potential viewers to decide for themselves whether this is something they would enjoy. For me, August Rush, is an instant favorite and a must have for my DVD collection. So much that is illustrated so beautifully here speaks to me on a personal level.
Even the name August Rush makes me think instantly of Lughnasadh, an ancient Celtic harvest festival which is still celebrated by some around August 1st. This celebration is all about sharing the bounty of harvest, the splendor of the Sun, and the transformative cycle of rebirth. Dancing and music are essential elements in this yearly celebration in which we rejoice in all that feeds us; physically, emotionally, spiritually.
This film focuses on Music, but illustrates in many subtle ways how the choices we make, good or bad, feed aspects of our selves and those around us. Music is often considered to be a universal language as it can reach out and move people who are vastly different in origin, spoken language and station in life. Music, like Love or Hope, transcends trivial barriers like spoken language or culture. Like Faith and Charity, it can have a profound impact on individuals and groups that continues into future generations. Like these other Truths in life, Music feeds our hearts minds and souls, and can inspire us in ways that we cannot foresee or predict. Music allows us to express that which we cannot give words to, and heals wounds that never scar but could last a lifetime. Music can give birth to miracles.
"The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen."
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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