August Rush (Movie Review)

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on February 13, 2010

August Rush Movie Poster 1

"August Rush" Is A True Fairytale Set In Our Days. The Movie Was To Be Nominated For An Oscar For The Song "Raise It Up".

Those who ever pick a guitar, those who ever sit in front of a piano or behind a drum kit, those who stand up mike in hand are doing it not because of fame, becoming immortal or hitting the cover of magazines. Any musician truly worth its salt steps on a stage because there is something he just can not communicate otherwise, in the same way that a writer or a painter expresses a part of him through his art – a part that he could not convey by other means.

Nowhere is this reminded with so much grace and virtuosity than in “August Rush” (2007). In the movie, music creates life. A boy is born to classic performer Lyla (Keri Russel) and rock musician Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in a night of passion. Fate then separates the two of them. Lyla still decides to have the baby, but her father is against it because it would hinder her career as a cellist. When she has an accident, he gives her newborn away for adoption, naming him Evan and telling Lyla her child has died. The boy (played by Freddie Highmore) is to eventually embark on a journey to find his parents. He is going to make them listen to him, turn his life into a melody they could never pass by.

That is the basic premise of “August Rush”, the closest to a fairytale set in the modern world I have ever seen. Don’t approach it looking for a rationale or feasible plot because you will be cringing within half an hour. However, if you believe that music is more than something to be played at the background during parties or casual events, “August Rush” will be in your wavelength. And if you are a MusicKO regular, I think I know where you stand.

Sounds delineate everything, and create the film’s most memorable scenes. Lyla is seen playing her cello when Louis is playing with his rock & roll band, and the sounds coalesce until different compositions become a single song, in the same way that the whole family will be reunited in due time by the piece August Rush will compose. “August Rush”, incidentally, is the name that Wizard (Robin Williams) bestows upon Evan when he picks him from the streets and makes him join his ensemble of buskers.

Wizard is the closer we have to an antagonist, but as the movie ends we get to see him in a different light. The turning point is the scene where he confronts the music teacher at Juilliard’s School, the institution where August is studying. “Music is not something you can learn from a book”, he argues ferociously. “You want to teach him?” he adds. “He is the one who will teach you”.

That contrast between music that is studied and music that comes naturally lies at the heart of the movie, and August goes from conducting nature in the first scene to conducting an orchestra at the end. He wants the world to listen. Because his parents are out there. If the world listens, they will as well.

Spanish Titles For The Movie Included "El Triunfo De Un Sueño" And "Mi Nombre Es August Rush" ("The Triumph Of A Dream" And "Mi Name Is August Rush").

Spanish Titles For The Movie Included "El Triunfo De Un Sueño" And "Mi Nombre Es August Rush" ("The Triumph Of A Dream" And "Mi Name Is August Rush"). The Latter Was The Title Used In My Country, Uruguay.

If I had to pick a favorite scene, I would go for the one in which August arrives at the big city, and the bustling sounds of New York end up creating a melody. Horns, sirens, barking dogs, footsteps… it is probably the movie’s truest magical moment, leaving aside the grandiose finale. The scene in which father and son meet is also a standout. In our hearts we know that music is the one and only thing that could unite them, and it works out like that on the screen.

The cast is unanimously likeable, with Freddie Highmore eventually going to star in “Charlie And The Factory Chocolate” as the nominal character, and with Robin Williams getting in the shoes of a former believer who still believes more than he cares to admit excellently. I was also thrilled to see Keri Russell again – the last time I had caught up with her was in “Felicity”, a show that truly had me captivated for the first season out of four that were to be mostly uneven.

It is far too clear that “August Rush” is not for everybody. Nothing sums that up best than the scene in which August questions Wizard about how far music can go. “Will the people hear?”, he asks the older musician. Wizard responds, ”the ones who are listening will”.

Will you like this movie? That depends on how much you will allow yourself to feel.

The music is there. The music is all around. All you have to do is listen.

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