August Rush

August Rush


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is an art to pushing the right buttons. Make it obvious and there are no surprises. Be subtle and the audience is gently transformed into a molten bubble of mallowmush.

August Rush takes the former route. The storyline can lead only one way and when obstacles are placed in its path you know that they are but gestures in the face of the inevitable. As for credibility, what’s that?

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Lyla (Keri Russell) is a cellist, who plays with the New York Philharmonic. She is talented, young, beautiful and under the control of her domineering father (William Sadler). Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a singer in an Irish rock band that includes his brother with whom he fights, as siblings tend to do.

On the evening that Lyla is soloing with the Phil and Louis is playing in a club, somehow they get together and do the infatuation headoverheelage, like a couple of teenagers, and spend the night on a roof, wrapped in each other’s arms. When daddy gets wind of this, or hints drift in his direction of an emotional disturbance that might affect her musical dedication, he packs Lyla into a limo and drives her away. Louis can’t reach her, is distraught, leaves the band and falls (briefly) apart.

This isn’t a film about how can they/how will they find each other again. It’s about Evan (Freddie Highmore), the progeny of their one night stand. When he was born, Lyla’s dad had him whipped off for adoption, having faked his daughter’s signature, and 11 years later Evan is languishing in a Chicago orphanage, where he is relentless bullied for being “a freak,” because he hears music everywhere and can’t stop believing that his real mother and father will someday come and take him home.

After a series of adventures, which includes escaping to New York, being “adopted” by a Fagin figure, called Wizard (Robin Williams), who lives in a disused theatre with a gang of lost children, and wandering into a church during gospel choir practice, he discovers that he can write symphonies and is recognized by the big cheese at Julliard as a child prodigy.

The film's sugar content is off the scale and it doesn’t help that everyone who comes in contact with Evan, except Wizard who trains kids to busk and then pockets their money, are sooo nice it reaffirms your belief in human nature – well, almost.

On first meeting, Louis asks, “What’s your story, Lyla?”

Lyla says, “I’m just me.”

Please, you think. Please no!

Sadly, even the wonderful Highmore and a selection of black actors, old and young, can’t improve on the script. All they can do is give it spirit.

Reviewed on: 29 Nov 2007
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Boy on the run discovers he is a musical prodigy.
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