If you like sweet films where you have to suspend your disbelief (as my sister Libby says) when the film seems more like a choppy fable than reality, you’ll enjoy August Rush.
Keri Russell plays Lyla, a classical musician trying to escape her father’s control, who meets up with Louis, a rock singer played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. They spend a night together on a roof top bench in New York. Her father refuses to let her meet the young man the next day. Alas, she falls pregnant. She insists on having the baby although her father disapproves. When she has the baby her father lets her understand that the baby dies, and she believes him. Evan grows up in a Long Island orphanage/boys home and doesn’t want to be adopted. He believes he can find his parents and runs away to New york to begin the journey.
You have to know how this is going to end…
Directed by Kirsten Sheridan, daughter of director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot; In America), the film struggles with the storyline and quality of writing. It also suffers from Robin Williams as the Fagin character to orphan Freddie Highmore’s Evan aka August Rush in an Oliver Twist scenario. Mixing the Harlem church with the preacher and his daughter is a nice touch but the minister is kind of left at the end like a dangling modifer.
I think Terrence Howard is terrific in any role and he plays his social worker character well here – but his is another role that the film fails to carry through.
Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are fine, but they deserved more screen time. The writers needed to find a way to take care of Evan while he was in the city but mixing in Dickens created the film’s fatal flaw.
While the film won’t make my top ten list for 2007, I liked it well enough.
What does work is Highmore’s music and the enthusiasm with which he embraces it. The film may draw a tear or two at the end (it did for me…) when everyone is reunited at a concert – even though it is hyper-predictable. The film has heart.
Smile. This is a life-affirming film.