|Movie Review: August Rush|
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terence Howard, Robin Williams
Rating: PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and mild language
By Gregg Tubbs
(UMC.org)—The song “American Pie” asked, “Can music save your mortal soul?” The new romantic drama August Rush rhapsodizes about the mysterious power of music. Does a subtle melody weave its way through nature? Is there a secret rhythm to the universe? Can music be a last refuge in times of trouble or the only way to express absolute joy? More specifically, it asks whether music has the power to draw a family together—over the years and great distance—and unite them even if they don’t know they are a family? That’s the hope of a young, musically gifted orphan who has never lost his faith that his parents are out there and that he can reach them with his song.
August Rush tells the story of a very special 11-year-old boy, Evan (Freddie Highmore), who is literally tuned into the music of the universe. He hears melody in the wind, the rain and the rustling of leaves. For Evan, music is universal, connecting everyone and everything. Orphaned at birth, Evan also hears something very personal in this universal symphony—his parents calling out to him, and through the music, he calls back to them. Despite teasing from the other boys at the orphanage, Evan believes with all his heart that his parents are out there waiting to find him.
Twelve years earlier, music brought together Lyla (Kerry Russell), a sheltered concert cellist, and Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a charismatic rocker. Beguiled by a street musician’s haunting rendition of “Moondance,” the two spend one unforgettable night of romance together before being forcefully separated by Lyla’s domineering father (Will Patton) who prevents their promised reunion the next day. The mysterious connection severed, the two heartbroken lovers move on, but for them, the magic of the music is lost. Lyla, pregnant with their child, is forbidden by her father to try to contact Louis. Following an accident that almost claims Lyla's life, her father forges papers to have the baby delivered in the ER and given up immediately for adoption. Lyla believes her baby (Evan) died, and Louis is unaware he ever existed. How can such a family ever be reunited? That’s where the power of music, faith and love work their magic.
August Rush tells the story of a very special 11-year-old boy, Evan (Freddie Highmore), who is literally tuned into the music of the universe. Copyright © 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures.
Years later, Evan escapes from the orphanage to search for his family, and here the story borrows heavily from Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” Evan hitchhikes to New York City and is taken in, hungry and cold, by a scruffy street musician called Wizard (Robin Williams). Like Fagin, Wizard runs a “family” of orphan boys who, rather than picking pockets, play music for money on the street. At first Wizard is awestruck by the boy’s ability to quickly master any instrument, but gradually sees him as a meal ticket, a highly valuable possession. He gives Evan the fanciful name “August Rush” and begins aggressively promoting him as a musical act to local clubs. But tough choices lay ahead for Evan who feels he has found a home with Wizard and the other boys. Should he leave them to find his real parents? Can he still trust his faith that they are out there, or was he wrong about the music that seemed to connect him to them?
Although August Rush is not a musical in the strict sense, the music becomes a fourth lead character that links all the characters and literally appears in every scene. The film features a clever and eclectic score of original music that is used to great effect to show the emotional connection between the characters. Through the magic of cinema, we hear Louis’s rock songs, Lyla’s classical pieces and Evan’s freeform guitar jams share themes, beautifully blending into one another and effortlessly harmonizing as if they’ve sprung from one heart.
August Rush is an exhilarating symphony of emotions about faith, family and the ties that bind us—the unseen, often mysterious forces that connect us and draw us together. In the film, music symbolizes that force. And can anyone doubt that music has an almost universal way of speaking to the human heart? Why else does a mother sing to a baby, why do couples share a special song, and why are we moved to sing praises to the Lord? Music enables us express something that words can’t, and August Rush strikes a rich and uplifting chord. Hindus believe the god Shiva danced the world into existence. Perhaps when the Lord said, “Let there be light,” it came out as a song.
Evan hitchhikes to New York City to look for his parents and is taken in, hungry and cold, by a scruffy street musician called Wizard (Robin Williams). Copyright © 2007 Warner Bros. Pictures.
In the film, music is used to symbolize a connection between all things and all people. Do you believe something connects all things? Is there a common thread? What is common to all things? (See Psalm 24:1.)
What draws you to and connects you to the people in your life? Is it music, like in the film? Is it sports? Shared beliefs? Faith?
Wizard is a complex character. Is he good, bad or a little of both?
Why did Lyla’s father do what he did? Was he trying to protect her? Or was he trying to possess and control her? How were he and Wizard alike?
Who do you think the mysterious street musician was who played “Moondance” and brought Lyla and Louis together?
Do you believe fate played a role in the movie? How? Do you believe in fate?
Wizard tells Evan, “Music is God’s reminder that there’s something in the universe other than us.” What did he mean? Do you agree?
How can music can be spiritual, even sacred? Did you know that many of the Psalms were originally sung as hymns of praise to God?
What did you think of Evan’s treatment in the church? Why was he drawn there? Was it the music alone,or something more?
Louis tells Evan that music can be a refuge when all else has failed. Do you agree? What do you take refuge in? Do you have a favorite song? What does it mean to you?
Official August Rush site