August Rush (2007)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama, Childhood Drama, Romantic Fantasy  |   Release Date - Nov 21, 2007 (USA)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Kirsten Sheridan knows a thing or two about being the offspring of creativity. The director and co-screenwriter of August Rush is also the daughter of acclaimed Irish director Jim Sheridan, and her second film focuses on a musical prodigy born of a concert cellist and a rock singer. What it doesn't have is the gritty realism present in most of her father's work, instead opting for a fairytale approach that is intermittently charming, but more often saccharine. The approach is most effective when demonstrating the ways young Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) -- later rechristened "August Rush" -- discovers his talents. In a couple memorable sequences, Evan hears music in the rustling of grass and the humming of electrical wires, which reaches a veritable symphony when he first takes in New York City's blast of unfamiliar street sounds. But the movie wanders into precious territory when it develops the structure of Oliver Twist, as Evan falls in with a band of homeless preteen buskers being exploited by a Fagin-like character named "The Wizard" (Robin Williams). Bothersome from the start is the parallel story of Evan's parents, Lyla (Keri Russell) and Louis (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), whose music supposedly "calls out to him," granting him the certitude that they never intended to abandon him. Since these characters are portrayed as unambiguously saintly, of course that's true -- Louis never saw Lyla again after their one-night stand, since her father prevented their intended meeting, then the same wicked father (William Sadler) forged her signature on Evan's adoption papers, telling Lyla he didn't survive the delivery. The events that bring all three on an inevitable path toward reunion, which rely on a psychic awareness of one another's actions and a gooey dollop of serendipity, will try the patience of all but the most forgiving fans of soppy inspirational movies.