Cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and Irish singer-songwriter Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) fall in love and have a night of passion before being separated by Lyla's protective father. (William Sadler). Lyla falls pregnant, but is told she has lost her unborn child in an accident. The infant was in fact, taken to an orphanage by Lyla's father. Now, the 12 year old Evan (Freddie Highmore) believes the music he hears in his head will help him find his real parents, and runs away from the orphanage, headed for New York. He finds himself in a shelter run by the 'Wizard' (Robin Williams), who names him August Rush. Meanwhile, having learned her son is alive, Lyla tries to find him with the help of social worker Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard), and Louis returns to his musical roots, retracing his steps to New York where he and Lyla met.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's far-fetched and a leap of faith of Olympic proportions is required to keep abreast of the plot, but August Rush does deliver some charming moments, largely due to charismatic performances from Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The unlikely one-night romance between Lyla and Louis, who meet by chance after they have both performed with their respective orchestra and band, forms the heart of this fantasy about a little boy who believes in music the way some people believe in fairy tales. Freddie Highmore plays the young lad who likes music more than food, but there is too much to swallow as he survives the streets of New York, learns to play musical instruments overnight and is acclaimed as a musical genius when accepted into Julliard, the prestigious music school.
The premise that Highmore's sensitive musically aware child hears symphonies from everyday sounds like screeching brakes, skateboards, sirens and trains rumbling on tracks, is an interesting one, albeit reminiscent of Paul Currie's 2002 drama One Perfect Day. The concept is well executed, but the script throws up too many coincidences and our ability to believe what is happening is keenly tested.
In an Oliver Twistian note, Robin Williams plays a rough, tough, red-head, red-neck, multi-earringed Fagan who uses street kids to line his wallet. Two of these youngsters impress without even trying. Leon G. Thomas III is a knockout as Arthur, the street kid with the big voice and attitude, and so is nine year old Jamia Simone Nash with the cute toothy grin who sings like an angel. Terrence Howard is totally wasted as the sympathetic social worker who helps Lyla and Evan, who is now known as August Rush. Thanks to Russell and Rhys Meyers there is a semblance of an emotional journey, but the film never reaches the heights to which it aspires.
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AUGUST RUSH (PG)
CAST: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams
PRODUCER: Richard Barton Lewis
DIRECTOR: Kirsten Sheridan
SCRIPT: Nick Castle, James V. Hart
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson
EDITOR: William Steinkamp
MUSIC: Mark Mancina
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Shaw
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 21, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.