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August Rush

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

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Know it is sap, dig below it and you have a pretty good flick

  • Oct 21, 2008
Rating:
+4
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 calls for it from time to time.

I also a sucker for music, so put them together and when the taste for sap occurs and there is such a film, I’ll watch it, even knowing it will be sap, sap, sap.

Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) is an orphan. His mother is a concert cellist, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and the lead singer of a seen-seen-all band, Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)—they had one night of bliss and . . .

We learn that Evan has a natural ear for music based on the sounds around him. He makes an impression on the social worker (Terrance Howard). Having no reason to stick around, Evan runs away from a rural New York orphanage to New York City. Through a twist and turn he finds a kid about his age playing for change in Washington Square Park, Arthur (Leon Thomas III). Arthur takes the little scamp back with him to the dilapidated theater he and other street musicians call home. The place is run by a Fagan called Wizard (Robin Williams). Evan, never having touched a musical instrument starts making sounds on a guitar that turn out to be quite good. Wizard then teaches him a few things and act as his manager. He also changes Evan’s name to August Rush.Lyla goes about her life by giving up playing music and relying on teaching. Louis goes about his job—I think he is a real estate agent or other broker, it isn’t clear—giving up music too. Evan/August’s world is focused on music and trying to find his parents. The stronger Evan/August becomes, the stronger the urge for both of his parents to take up music again arises. The rest is . . . watch it or not.

The story is very sappy. However, if you know this going in, you can put aside the sticky goo and watch what is being presented under that layer.


It also requires a serious amount of suspension of disbelief. It is possible that he was never given access to any musical instruments during any of his classes at the orphanage, but that strains credibility beyond the breaking point.


The acting is good and at times very good (Mr. Thomas stands out in my mind). I cannot stand Robin Williams and his ability to play a Fagan in this film is about as convincing as any of his roles have been since he was Mork. He is flat and a distraction since he is surrounded by the most dynamic of the other actors.

I’ve brought up Fagan twice. There is no way to review August Rush without some attention to Oliver Twist. The difference here being that the theft is not children being pick pockets but having talents who turn over their cash to Fagan, just as in the Dickens classic. They just come about the cash in a different way.

That takes care of the story which is really more of a vehicle for the music.

What sets Evan apart is a natural ability with music. The film is awash in things like chants from nature, a drum and thump chant from the city, and more complex melodies and motifs as the kid wanders the twisting streets of lower Manhattan.

Music though, is a tool for him. Once he able to find an audience at all, his forever idée fixe springs to obsessive light. His real goal is to find his parents. Music is his language, his emission, his search-light. It remains only music for anyone around him, but for him it is the only way he is convinced he will be able to find his parents. Unfortunately, this is not Mr Holland’s Opus, we only get moments of August’s masterpiece which is a major failing if for no other reason than he has a shopping cart filled with things like hubcaps that will be used in his piece (they are shown, but unused in the orchestra at the end).

How this works is why you watch the film, so I will not go farther. I promise the music information is not a plot spoiler; it is evident from the opening narrative.

On a totally separate note, I have to wonder why anyone is ever let into Washington Square Park if they don’t have a permit allowing them to film there. The Washington Arch monument has been used in so many films that I cannot count them and it hasn’t even always been located in the Village (Angels in America locates it in Brooklyn for some reason). Every time I visit it, I’m lucky enough to be able to wander through it without a permit saying I’m scouting the area for yet one more movie to use the park/monument. I love the arch and the area, but it need not be in as movies as it is. I’m a southerner so what I’m about to say could get me exiled, but why not use the gilded statue of Sherman at the south-east edge of Central Park from time to time? This is just personal gripe saying that I fear that one day there will be permanent film cameras around the park requiring directors to put in quarters to use them for a select period of time for their film.



Recommended:
Yes

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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 . 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 . April 01, 2008
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 …
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 …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #56
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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Wiki

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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Details

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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