Released: November 21, 2007
Average Rating: 4 stars (1 user)
|by Dan Goldwasser
on March 10th, 2008
August Rush is the touching although somewhat saccharine tale about an orphan who is seeking his parents. Evan (Freddie Highmore) is stuck at a boy's home, his parents having (apparently) given him up shortly after birth. Filled with music, he believes that if he can express the music in a way that it can be heard by everyone, it will allow his parents to find him. It turns out that his parents are very musical themselves: renowned cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and indie rocker Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) had a one night stand that resulted in Evan's birth. Lyla's father kept his birth from her, making her think instead that she had lost the baby. Now Lyla finds out that Evan is very much alive, and tries to find him. Through the help of social worker Richard Jeffries (Terence Howard), she identifies him - only to find that he has run away looking for his parents. In much the way that Oliver Twist works out, Evan ends up in the big city (New York City) and is taken in by a Fagan-like character known as Wizard (Robin Williams) who seeks to exploit Evan's musical abilities, through the use of a stage name: August Rush. Meanwhile, Louis - having given up his music - is looking for Lyla, who he regrets losing after their one night of passion. When August escapes from Wizard and is taken in by a church group, he ends up with an amazing opportunity at the Juilliard School - one that could allow his music to be heard, and the search for his parents to be fulfilled.
The story is a bit implausible, and it can be quite schmaltzy at times, but director Kirstin Sheridan manages to keep the flow going steadily, and tug at the heartstrings at the right moments. The music is vitally important to the film, and composer Mark Mancina's score supports the storytelling, even allowing the climax to play out solely with music and no words at all. There are original songs written by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, and even an Oscar-nominated song "Raise it Up" features prominently in the vibrant music mix.
Released on Blu-ray, the video is not perfect, but is very clean and solid - definitely indicative of most 2007 films released in High Definition. Deep saturated colors allow a very natural film-like image to be displayed, with just a touch of grain, but it didn't seem as though the contrast was spot-on. The sound options for the film include a very crisp and clean Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound English track, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 in French and Spanish. All of the music (score and songs) is well presented here, and it's a very nice track to listen to.
The film didn't do as well as hoped at the box office, and the lackluster audience reception has resulted in a rather bare-bones Blu-ray release. The only extras are the inclusion of seven deleted scenes (running approx. 14-minutes total). They're shown in standard definition, and give a little more depth to the characters - but don't give us any major revelations. It's a pity that there is no commentary or behind-the-scenes or anything on the music; this was a project that one would have hoped for a bit more of an exploration as to why Sheridan made the choices she did. It's understandable, since the film wasn't successful, that the studio would pop it out with minimal effort, but with an Oscar-nominated song and a critically acclaimed score, they could have at least had a music-related commentary with Mancina and Ondrasik, just to give people a bit more incentive to discover the film.
|by Dan Goldwasser
on November 6th, 2007
August Rush tells the story of the orphan Evan (Freddie Highmore) who has the unique ability to hear music in the world around him. The pitch of the wind. The rustle of branches. The cacophony of everyday life is music to him, and he believes that if he can express the music - and have it be heard - that he will be able to find his parents. So he runs away from the boys home where he had been raised, and escapes to New York City. Social worker Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard) is trying to find him, and at the same time, his biological mother - renowned cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) discovers that he's alive (led to believe that she lost the baby in an accident by her manipulative father) and starts her search to find him. Also at the same time, former indie rocker Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) starts his own search for Lyla, having had a magical night with her some 12 years previously. (The result of that night, of course, was Evan.) Alone in NYC, after a chance encounter with a child street performer, Evan begins to discover his ability to pick up any instrument and express himself through music. This catches the eye of Wizard (Robin Williams), a Fagin character who takes Evan under his wing and begins to exploit him - going so far as to make him take on a stage name. "August Rush", so that the authorities won't find him. Soon August's talent takes him to the halls of Juilliard, but will his abilities bring his parents together, and to him?
It's a touching story, one that plays to the emotions, and as they say, music is emotion. The acting is pretty solid, even though it wasn't entirely clear why a one-night stand had such a profound meaning in Louis that he gave up his music because he couldn't find Lyla. The climax of the film has no dialogue - it's all music, and hits all the right beats to get your tears working. Director Kirsten Sheridan has crafted a modern fable, telling the story of an orphan's search for his parents - but in a rather unique and musical way. Composer Mark Mancina's score is integral to the storyline - he wrote the main theme that August keeps "hearing", and ultimately composes as "August's Rhapsody". It's stirring, moving, and a surprisingly touching film that all audiences can enjoy and appreciate.
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