“The music is all around us; all you have to do is listen”
I don’t know if August Rush shows the makings of success like her father Jim, but Kirsten Sheridan has crafted something beautiful. Credit the writers for sure, however, Sheridan has put it all together into a very nice package. This is a fairytale above anything else and one should overlook any eccentricities or impossibilities of real life, this is not meant to show truth. Instead we are shown a romantic tale of conquering all odds in order to reunite lost souls, whether that be a child and his parents, a man and a woman who shared a night long ago, a social worker and his belief in the power of love, or a homeless musical talent with the knowledge that there are still people out there listening, not just learning from books and how to imitate, but truly listening to the sounds around them and creating art for the love of music itself. Because as we all know, you must “love music more than food, more than even yourself.”
This film had great potential when I saw the trailer, but I never really thought it could ever live up to it. I saw it falling into the Hollywood pitfalls of convenience and laziness, making everything overly sentimental and dripping with saccharine. Now, there’s a fair share of those moments, yet I never minded one bit because the heart was always at the forefront. Being so instilled with an otherworldly quality and fairytale mystic, nothing seems out of place. One needs those moments of coincidence and chance bringing paths together along the way. Sure it happens in real life, but in the stories told to us as children it occurs all the time. We as kids need those common tomes and roads intertwining in order to wrap our minds around the cause of all the inevitable happiness. Fate brings good things together in these types of tales and for that reason each moment rings absolutely true—that is if you let the story take you over and buy into its magic.
Sheridan orchestrates the visual music to perfection. When our star, Evan Taylor/August Rush, played by Freddie Highmore, hears the world around him making their songs, it is stunning to behold. The quick cuts from shoes on the street, basketballs on the chain netting, steam emitted from smokestacks, etc, bring each symphony into reality. Even those moments when he sets his eyes on an instrument for the first time, intuitively knowing how to play it, make you believe his pure joy in the act and his genius in order to play what he does. Highmore is quite the talent and I’m not sure how to take what I have heard recently about him saying he will quit acting once he grows up. For one I have all the respect in the world for that decision, stop with the success now and make a life for yourself instead of fighting through the pressure and criticisms of never being as good older as you were in the past. However, I can’t help but think he may have some greatness left in him that we may never be able to experience.
As for the tale itself, we are treated with the union of two musicians lost on their way to adulthood. A rockstar unsure of the life he is being asked to live and a Julliard trained cellist attempting to reconcile her love for the craft with the hatred of her father forcing her into it. Their love brings forth a child that they will never know, yet who will never give up in the search to find them. With music as the canvas connecting them all together, they journey out of the safe lives they have lived, following the music eleven years later in order to see if the happiness they once knew could still be out there for the taking. It really is a gorgeous tale of love and hope, sprinkled with some visual panache and the unabashed confidence to let songs, both lyrical and instrumental, bolster the proceedings into a concert of vibrancy.
Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers both are wonderful as the torn lovers finding themselves and eventually the desire to find each other again. I was very surprised to see that Rhys Meyers actually sang his own songs being that the lip-synching was so horrible, but I don’t want that to hamper my viewing of the use of music here. Every performance is believable and well done. Even the guitar slapping, something I have never seen before, is quite mesmerizing to behold. Terrence Howard brings a nice role to the story as well, playing the social worker trying to work as a liaison between all parties, always with the best interests of the child in mind. And of course there is Robin Williams. His role is a far cry from the one that is fleshed out in the trailer. While he does what he can to help the boy, his motives are not as wholesome as you may expect in the beginning. Attempting to live out the fantasy of success he must have always had in life, he begins to put the boy’s best interests into the backseat. It leads to some powerful moments and he does a great job with the tough role.
Through it all, though, everything that happens leads into the climax of the film. What a scene that is too. Starting with the concerts of both Russell and Rhys Meyers, on different sides of NYC, and Highmore underground awaiting his next move while his debut begins above him, we are led full circle through all the relationships that have been brought forth. Every character finally becomes that which they have been workings towards—mention should be made for Leon G. Thomas III as Arthur with some fantastic work. Yes, the conclusion is obvious, but it is also the perfect ending to the story. There are no epilogues or embraces of happiness, instead we get what we deserve, a final instance of music bringing the world together and helping lovers find their way.
August Rush 8/10 | ★ ★ ★