Directed By: Kirsten Sheridan
Release Date: November 21, 2007
Run Time: 114 minutes
On the surface, August Rush is a movie about a kid with amazing musical talents, in search of his parents who, due to tragic circumstances, don't know he exists. As a simple romance movie, it may seem to fall a little flat.
But August Rush is not meant to be a simple romance movie. For me, August Rush is a deeply spiritual movie about soul mates and the inter-connectedness between all things - living and non-living. The very first opening lines, spoken by the enchanting young star, Freddie Highmore, say, "Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind, in the air, in the light. It's all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do is listen." This movie asks that of you. To really understand August Rush requires that you listen with your heart.
There are those that believe, spiritually, that God is actually everything. God is you, and me, and the flowers, trees, air, sky, etc. Scientists and mathematicians say that everything in our world - even the patterns in the air currents - can be expressed as a mathematical equation. There is even a theory now of the "God Equation". And of course, the connection between music and mathematics has long been studied by human beings. I believe that the creators of August Rush had all that in mind when they made this lovely movie.
Evan (Freddie Highmore) is an eleven year old boy, living at the Walden County Home For Boys - an orphanage. He doesn't fit in. His understanding of music and his unshakable belief that he can hear his parents out in the world set him apart from the other boys. They are jealous and intimidated by his faith and they lash out, calling him Freak. But Evan is undaunted, believing he gets the gift of hearing from his parents and that if he can learn to make the right music, they will hear him too.
His parents are Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). When they met, Lyla was an extraordinary cellist and Louis was the singer and lead guitarist in a rock band. They both heard the same music their son hears and they were drawn to each other in a soul mate kind of connection that led to one magical night of romance and passion (and the conception of their son).
When they awoke the next morning, they knew they were meant to be together forever. But when Lyla goes back to get her things, her father (William Sadler) comes down on her with an iron fist, stopping her from following her heart, and breaking Louis' when he sees them driving away. He leaves the band shortly after that - the music just hurts too much.
When Lyla turns out to be pregnant, her dad continues to convince her to stay for her own good. When Lyla wakes up from a frightening medical emergency that resulted in the birth of her child, her father tells her that the baby "is gone", leading her to believe it died. Lyla's heart is broken by the entire experience and she walks away from music, as well, becoming a teacher in Chicago.
Lyla and Louis never forget each other. They never stop sensing that something is missing from their lives. They don't know what it is, but they sense it, catching fleeting glimpses with their hearts.
Their son, however, believes completely. He runs away from the orphanage, determined to learn how to express his own music while listening for his parents to guide his journey. As all three of them open their hearts, they are drawn ever closer on an amazing journey of faith, beauty, and music that shows the patterns of inter-connectedness between the three of them (and around us all.)
I absolutely adore this movie. As a musical person and a spiritual person, August Rush speaks to me on multiple levels. I find it a joy to watch, no matter how many times I see it.
Watching the interweaving of circumstances and characters, the near misses they experience and the ways that they interact without even realizing they are doing it, moves me. I watch and I think about the patterns in my own life and the way things have worked out in seemingly mysterious ways at times. This movie makes me feel more connected to the magic all around me.
The cast is truly enjoyable. I am so impressed with Freddie Highmore. He comes across as an old soul in a young body, wise beyond his years and unafraid to believe. Terrance Howard is Richard Jeffries, the caseworker that teaches Evan to whistle and seems to be the first person who sees how special he is.
The late, great Robin Williams is Wizard - a "broken elf" kind of person who is an intriguing combination of light and dark. He clearly knows music, describing it to Evan as, "God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars." He is drawn to Evan because he sees that Evan knows the music too. Wizard's music was there the night that Lyla and Louis met and his influence brings Evan ever closer to his parents, even if that is not his conscious intention.
Jamia Simone Nash is Hope, an absolutely adorable girl that not only steals every scene she is in, she leads Evan to Reverand James (Mykelti Williamson). Mykelti has been a personal favorite of mine since seeing him as "Bubba" in Forrest Gump, and he is lovely in his small part as someone who cares deeply about Evan and his gifts, ultimately helping him to get into Julliard.
If you are a fan of music, you will certainly enjoy this movie on that level alone. But if you open up to it and listen with your heart, you just might love it the way I do.
Can you hear it?
(I was not paid to endorse this movie in any way. I watched it from my own private video collection and my opinions and thoughts about it are my own.)