Customer Review

232 of 242 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Music that Brings Us Together, November 20, 2007
"August Rush" is a fairy tale. It doesn't have princes, princesses, evil stepmothers, witches, or big bad wolves, but it's a fairy tale nonetheless. And as such, it tells a story that resonates so strongly with its audience that it casts a magic spell. This movie is told in the language of music, and it exemplifies the harmonic connections between people, the rhythmic bonds that can never be broken in spite of distance and time. It's also told in the language of faith, of the belief that love will indeed conquer all. No, this is not a realistic idea, but that's not the point. Isn't it nice that we have films like this to escape to when realism is bringing us down? Isn't it wonderful when we find that one film that can raise our spirits? "August Rush" was that film for me, and I recommend it to anyone in need of a rejuvenating emotional boost.

The film stars Freddie Highmore as an orphan named Evan Taylor, a quiet yet determined musical prodigy. He was born as the result of a chance encounter between two musicians: an Irish rock guitarist named Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and a classically trained American cellist named Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell). While living in New York City, they met and separated through twists of fate--Lyla's controlling father (William Sadler) doesn't take the news of her unplanned pregnancy very well, and when she's hit by a car and injured, he uses that opportunity to make her believe that her baby did not survive. In reality, the baby was delivered and put into the legal system as a parentless orphan. Lyla and Louis go their separate ways, believing that they would never see each other again.

In the present day, their eleven-year-old son Evan lives in an orphanage with a number of broken-spirited boys. They're so disillusioned that they bully him into believing as they do. They constantly tell him that no one is coming for him, that his ability to hear music in everything makes him nothing more than a freak. And they will not stand for his belief that he actually hears the music of his parents calling out to him. But Evan refuses to sink to their level of hopelessness; he runs away to New York City, where the music seems to be beckoning him towards his destiny. It's there he meets Wizard (Robin Williams), a shady musician who houses a number of musically inclined children in an abandoned theater. He, too, is beaten down by life, so much so that he uses these children for his own financial gain. When he discovers Evan's natural ability to play the guitar, he gives him the pseudonym August Rush and forces him to perform in parks and on street corners.

Lyla, meanwhile, is living in Chicago as a music teacher. Single and without any children, she seems complacent yet stable in her new life. But all that changes when (1) she's offered a change to once again play with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and (2) she learns that her baby did not die eleven years ago. With a powerful yet unexplainable determination, she travels back to New York on a quest to find her long lost son, a quest that will hopefully be added by her playing of the cello. Hoping to help find Evan is Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard), a social worker who met the boy when he was still living at the orphanage.

And then, of course, there's Louis, who has since gone on to be a businessman in San Francisco. His band members haven't forgiven him for leaving, least of all his brother, Marshall (Alex O'Loughlin). But worst of all, Louis hasn't been able to forgive himself, and upon seeing footage of himself performing on stage, he remembers the love he felt for Lyla. The memory is so strong that's he vows to reunite with her. This journey of finding lost love leads him from Chicago back to New York City, where he's inspired to rejoin with his band and restart his singing career. Much like his son--whom he doesn't know exists--Louis is a gifted guitar player; one can hear his passion and energy with every chord, and his music operates at the same frequency as Lyla's cello playing.

As you can probably tell, most of the film thrives on serendipity, and it gets more and more prominent with every passing scene. A kind-hearted pastor eventually takes Evan in, and when made aware of his musical genius, they send him to the Julliard School of Music. He composes a piece within the first six months of his stay, one that the faculty believes is good enough to be performed. Thus sets into motion the events leading to one of the most satisfying endings of any movie I've seen this year, a scene so touching that I was in awe. As I listened to Evan's "August's Rhapsody," I felt as if I had been enveloped in the folds of hope, love, and happiness; the earthiness of the chimes blended perfectly with the smoothness of the violins and the energy of the guitars, all of which made his unwavering faith in the power of connection perfectly clear.

This is the magic of "August Rush," a film so wonderful that I cannot recommend it enough. It's a modern day fable with a timeless message, and it comes across so well that I never once stopped to consider how implausible it is. Plausibility doesn't even come into play, here. What does come into play is the emotional impact, the sense that we can get something out of it if we surrender to pure fantasy. Evan opens the film by saying, "Music is all around us--all we have to do is listen." This is one of the year's best films, and if you keep that quote in mind when seeing it, you'll be more inclined to agree.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 23, 2010 7:41:22 AM PDT
B. Smith says:
I agree wholeheartedly with this review. I saw this movie for the first time last night on TV. I loved it so much that I would like to buy the DVD. It's a movie I'm sure I will want to watch more than once. Freddie Highmore was amazing, and deserved an Oscar for his performance in my opinion. I can't believe that I had never heard of this movie nor Freddie Highmore before....so glad it was shown on TV.

Posted on Oct 29, 2010 11:25:58 PM PDT
An outstanding review that truly does the movie justice, in both nonspoiling description and frank admiration that shines through a well chosen wording. Owning and both loving this film, it's a rare journey to the unexpectedly wonderful that will leave any who has ever resonated with music-strings, winds, or vocals-both recognizing the power and appreciating the splendid serendipity of it all. Chris Pandolfi, excellent writing.

Posted on May 30, 2011 9:49:58 PM PDT
Darien Wells says:
THis is an incredibly well written review. Much nicer than what I can write, although I tried, I probably didn't do the film as much justice as this review has done.

Posted on Dec 17, 2011 1:00:50 PM PST
Gini says:
I saw about 10 minutes of this film shown by a middle school teacher for the last day of classes before break. I was so awe-struck, I went back to my classroom (this was my prep period), googled the title, and purchased it from Amazon and it immediately downloaded to my computer, where I showed it to the rest of my classes for the balance of my day. I had heard of this movie, but I can see why it didn't make a splash...no sex, drugs, murder, or ILM special effects. Yet, this is one of the best stories I've seen and the middle school kids where I teach got it...because as the gangs run your life, so does Wizard try to run theirs...by telling them they are low down and there is no one out there for them except him....when we have faith, a lot of miracles can happen!

Posted on Apr 1, 2012 11:02:02 PM PDT
Linny says:
Also agree wholeheartedly with this review. Just saw this movie in it's entirety and couldn't resist repeating my viewing. It was so heartwarming, uplifting and emotionally stirring. It was a little frustrating anticipating everyone reuniting. Difficult to say anymore than this reviewer has also expressed...it's outstanding as was this movie.

Posted on Jul 8, 2013 5:34:17 PM PDT
A. Knox says:
I saw this movie for the first time this weekend So Powerful Beautiful and Poignant .I just ordered it from Amazon on DVD
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Location: Los Angeles, CA

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