August Rush (2007)
A Musical Mind
The music is all around us, all you have to do is listen - Evan Taylor
When you watch a lot of movies you can get into a rut, one movie after another delivering little more than shallow entertainment which leaves no impression. It makes you grateful when you come across something different, something which has heart and soul and that something is "August Rush". Now admittedly when "August Rush" started I disliked it, when it ended there was still things which I disliked but the sea of sentimentality it delivers, taking risks as it walks a fine line between being emotional and cheesy made it a movie which has showed, heart and soul, a movie which makes you feel something deep with in. And it is because it achieves this, because I can unashamedly say that it made me shed a tear makes "August Rush" a movie I won't forget and for mainly the right reasons.
One night after classical cellist Lyla (Keri Russell - Waitress) and Irish singer Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Mission: Impossible III) perform at separate events they meet a top a New York building, the sound of a busker beneath the arch below drawing them together. But the next day Lyla's father forces her to leave, leaving Louis heart broken to the point of giving up music, wandering alone in hope of meeting Lyla again. Unbeknown to Louis is that one night of romance lead to Lyla becoming pregnant but following an accident Lyla's father hands the new born child to social services to be put into a home telling his daughter that her child died. Eleven years later, Evan (Freddie Highmore - A Good Year) runs away from a home for boys and heads to New York with this deep belief that music will reunite him with his parents, displaying signs of being a musical genius which whilst offering him amazing opportunities also leads him into some unsavoury company who plan to use his genius for their own gain.
First things first, "August Rush" is a modern day fairytale, Louis charming and handsome, Lyla is beautiful and their offspring is sweet. Not only that this is a movie drenched in sentimentality, highly orchestrated scenes and intentional near misses which swell the level of romance and fairytale-ness to bordering on the cheesy. Add to this a semi mystical side as young Evan believes that music will reunite him with his parents and all the ingredients are there plus a few more to make "August Rush" one seriously sweet, sentimental and emotional movie.
Now it's not all like that in fact the opening which flicks between eleven year old Evan in the foster home and then New York and the sweet meeting between Louis and Lyla is annoying. In fact it goes on because when we stop flicking back from the now to the past we then flick between New York, Chicago and San Francisco as each person happens to be in a different city. But then it gets into its groove as for reasons I won't explain Lyla and Louis head back to New York after events lead them to change their lives.
But Louis and Lyla are just part of the story because we also have the journey of Evan who on reaching New York finds himself introduced to Wizard, a Fagin style character with a whole collection of musical children who busk for him. And here is one of the first brave things about "August Rush" because this whole Wizard storyline as he uses the children especially Evan to make money does sail close to being too "Oliver Twist" like but then it restrains itself so it doesn't cross the line to becoming cheesy. It is the same when Evan, who now goes by the name of August Rush meets Hope, a little girl who sings in a gospel choir, it borders on the excruciatingly cute but then restrains itself to be more fun than sweet. And so it goes on because often as things happen in young Evan's life they all come close to being sentimentally cheesy but then holds back and stops itself from going too far.
Now in fairness all of this is contrived but intentionally so because as already mentioned we are talking modern fairytale here and it works. And a big part of why it works is that the musical elements are brilliant. There is this constant free flowing background soundtrack which whisks us along and then it is punctuated by recognizable musical moments from Evan showing his musical genius when he bangs out a heavenly song on a guitar or when we hear Louis and his band sing. It is such a well made soundtrack that it helps to take us on this fairytale journey and a big reason why it ends up such an emotional movie.
As for the acting well in fairness it sort of is forgettable because whilst Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell are nicely cast as Louis and Lyla you are not going to remember them. In fact whilst also nicely cast you are probably not going to remember Freddie Highmore as Evan despite delivering a more than adequate performance as a musical genius who comes to life when he is playing. The chances are you are going to remember Robin Williams as Wizard but more because he is the only nasty character in the movie and despite using Evan and the other children isn't as nasty as it could be.
What this all boils down to is that "August Rush" is a purposefully sentimental modern fairytale which often walks close to becoming cheesy. But it is a brave and beautiful movie which when it touches you it really touches you and when it does you won't want to stop watching.
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