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Movie Magic Makes August Rush Truly Unforgettable

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2007 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Movie Magic Makes <i>August Rush</i> Truly Unforgettable

DVD Release Date:  March 11, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  November 21, 2007
Rating:  PG (some thematic elements, mild language and mild violence)
Genre:  Drama
Run Time:  100 min.
Director:  Kirsten Sheridan
Actors:  Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams, Terrence Howard, Jamia Simone Nash

It’s often been said that music is a universal language—an unspoken dialect with the power of conveying emotion when mere words can’t. Of course, this is probably why a movie’s score plays such an integral part in cinematic storytelling as different timbres, key changes and orchestral swells add the extra emotional weight to a moving scene.

In the family-oriented fable August Rush, music is just as much of a character as August himself. It’s the sound Evan (a remarkable Freddie Highmore), who is later renamed August Rush (more on that in a minute), hears in the ordinary, everyday occurrences of life. Whether it’s the wind gently blowing through the fields, the cacophony of honking horns in the busy New York City traffic or the thump of a bouncing basketball on the pavement, August hears its unique rhythm. Truth be told, it’s probably the same odd sort of phenomenon that Mozart, Bach or Beethoven dealt with before writing their magnum opus, much to the annoyance of anyone they came into contact with on a regular basis.

This special gift for hearing music in everything causes August to be the laughingstock of all the boys at the orphanage that he calls home. Unlike the others who act out as a result of their sad circumstances, August is hopeful and optimistic that, somehow, some way, his birth parents will find him. And he’s convinced that his music will play a significant part in that.

We later learn that August’s musical impulses are partly a result of heredity. His mom, Lyla Novacek (a resplendent Keri Russell) is a professional cellist, who is talented enough to play with the New York Philharmonic. His dad, Louis Connelly (an equally outstanding Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a sensitive singer/songwriter type who fronts a rock band with his Irish brothers.

Although unquestionably talented, both Lyla and Louis are lonely (and drop-dead gorgeous, but we’ll overlook that), which is the magnet that instantly draws them to each other as they unexpectedly meet on a rooftop in NYC. Even the party that’s going on downstairs can’t seem to draw these two away from each other, and they spend the night together, only to be cruelly woken up by Louis’ water-hose wielding brother the next morning.

While it’s clear that Louis wants to spend more time with Lyla and vice versa, her demanding father won’t let her see him again. For her father, Lyla’s life is all about making a name for herself in music, and any distraction—romantic or otherwise—just isn’t acceptable.

Then when Lyla turns up pregnant, her dad makes things even more difficult. SPOILER ALERT:  While Lyla wants to keep her baby, an accident renders her unconscious and causes her to believe she lost her baby—a story her father invents so Lyla can “go on with her life.”

And while a one-night stand is usually forgotten before long, Louis never forgets Lyla. In fact, it’s not long before he gives up on his musical aspirations all together, heads back to his hometown of San Francisco and trades his cool, rock star attire for a suit, tie and a corporate gig.

Meanwhile, August has found out from a Child Services rep (Terrence Howard) that he has an opportunity to be placed in a new family. While life-changing news for some kids, that’s the last thing August wants since he still believes his parents will find him. So he runs away from the orphanage and lands in Manhattan.

With no money aside from 12 bucks a stranger gave him out of pity, no direction, and no place to call home, once again he’s drawn to the music. But this time the music comes from a kid close to his age, who is playing a guitar in the street for tips. Having never even touched a guitar, August desperately wants to make friends with this kid no matter what it takes. So when the kid demands a pizza, August forks over all the cash he’s got.

Much to the surprise of his new friend, August follows him “home,” which happens to be a rundown theater of homeless kids with a knack for playing music. And where there’s talent, there’s always a buck to be made, something that Wizard (a scene-stealing Robin Williams) has discovered as he functions as the surrogate dad/booking agent/manager to these kids. At first Wizard believes that August is just another pesky kid. Well, until August picks up Wizard’s prized guitar and plays the incredibly inventive riff he’s been hearing in his head for ages.

Immediately noticing his prodigious talent, Wizard renames the kid formerly known as Evan “August Rush” and starts booking gigs for him. Every time August plays in the park or on the street, a crowd forms, which not only makes August feel closer to his dreams but makes Wizard all the more dependent on him.

Once August figures out Wizard’s true intentions, he runs away again and ends up in a church. Without giving much more of the plot away, this inevitably ends up being a turning point in August’s life.

Hooked yet? Well, you haven’t even seen the best parts. Of course nothing that happens in this “Oliver Twist-esque” story would ever be deemed “realistic.” It’s pure Hollywood magic at its finest. But if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, sit back and enjoy, then the rewards of August Rush are many. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably even tear up, so you may want to bring some tissues along for the ride. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
 
CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Louis and his brothers’ band play in smoky bars/clubs. In a couple of scenes, social drinking is depicted.
  • Language/Profanity:  A few mild profanities are uttered by a couple of the street kids.
  • Sex/Nudity:  Lyla, who is in her very early 20s at the time, gets pregnant after a night out with Louis. Nothing aside from a kiss and the couple waking up next to each is shown.
  • Violence:  A few of the boys in the orphanage pick on Evan and threaten to hurt him. Wizard pushes August up against a fence.