January 19, 2008 -- This film is kind of like a feature length music video. It is a lot like a conventional musical, but the story is not conventional, it is mystically romantic. I found it enchanting. But this sort of movie it is way too positive and romantic for most critics, who prefer films with much more death, suffering and tragedy. Horror of horrors, it even has a happy ending!
The main character of this story is Evan Taylor (played by Freddie Highmore of “Finding Neverland”). Evan is in an orphanage, but knows his parents are alive somewhere. He is determined to find them and strikes out on his own to New York City. He is drawn there “by the music” he says. There he falls in with a group of children living in an old theater, led by a Fagin-type character, Maxwell 'Wizard' Wallace (Robin Williams of “Night at the Museum”). The kids play instruments and sing in local parks for money. Maxwell, a former street performer himself, collects money from the kids. It is as creepy as it sounds. Oddly, Maxwell seems to be the only person who understands Evan's astounding musical gift. He is able to hear the music in normal city noise and make unique musical compositions out of those sounds. Eventually, a local minister hears Evans compositions and gets him admitted to the famed Juilliard School of performing arts, where he excels.
Meanwhile Evan's mother, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell of “Waitress”), a Juilliard graduate herself, and a gifted musician, has just found out that she has a son. Her father, Thomas (William Sadler of “Kinsey”) had lied to her years ago when her son was born. He forged documents saying that Lyla gave the baby up for adoption and he told Lyla the baby died. And where was her doctor when all this was going on? If you want logic, this isn't your movie. You have to let yourself be carried away by a wave of sentiment. Evan's father, Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers of “Mission Impossible III”) has also been drawn to New York by mysterious forces. He has been trying to work up the courage to reconnect with Lyla, his one-night-stand from years before. He too, is unaware that he's a father. He has also been on the outs with his brothers for years. Together they once had a very successful band.
Lyla had given up playing the cello, but took up the instrument once again when she learns her son is alive. Louis once again seeks out his brothers and reunites his old band. Evan, who has taken on the stage name of August Rush at the insistence of Maxwell, is well on his way to becoming a famous musician in his own right. The stars are aligned to bring these three lost souls together on one magic New York night. As you might expect, there is a lot of music in this movie. It is the one thing that binds it together. It is the force that draws its characters to one another. The city itself is another character. New York looks magical and romantic in this movie. The movie features a number of fine musical performances, including an outstanding church choir, and a couple of fine young performers, church choir member Hope (Jamia Simone Nash) and a flashy busker, Arthur (Leon G. Thomas III). This film rates a B.
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