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Firstly, being a fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers I had been hearing about
this project for a while and I couldn't figure out how they'd make
sense out of it. It does end up making sense even if it's a little
far-fetched. It's about a son and his parents who all have to find each
other, but my problem was that I couldn't figure out a way they could
have gotten so separated in the first place. But luckily the writers
did. It's pretty sappy and sentimental but if you're not that kind of
person, I can't imagine you'd be interested in something like this
anyway. It's the type of story that always comes out around this time
of year, which is also the most sentimental time of the year. It gives
you warm fuzzies so if you like something like 'Mr. Holland's Opus' or
'About a Boy' or 'Love Actually' you'd more than likely enjoy it.
I don't know if this qualifies as a musical but it should. It had lots of music in it although people didn't burst into fits of singing dialogue. The songs were normal songs, mostly original, and they were great. The young people involved were very talented, especially Jamia Simone Nash and Leon G. Thomas. Robin Willams and Terrence Howard had smaller supporting roles. (I've been saying that Williams and Bono resemble each other for 20 years so I'm glad he put the hat on and finally proved me right.) JRM and Keri Russell are co-stars who do their jobs well. But the star of the movie is Freddie Highmore. He's a good actor and I believe this was the first thing I've seen him in. I wouldn't be surprised to see him nominated for this.
I actually think this movie would be good for kids. I think there is maybe one bad word in it and maybe the way he came into the world might bother the extreme conservatives. But it's uplifting and a story about belief, especially belief in yourself. And I expect that'd be good for anyone to see, except maybe those who really hate too much sentimentality.
OK, so I was ready for this movie to be schmaltzy. I wanted it to be
schmaltzy. And schmaltzy it was... but it lacked any of the character
development or dramatic arc to make an audience care enough to embrace
the schmaltz and let it move them. I was actually angered by the
quality of this film.
The basic premise, as some have commented, has potential. I'm an actor and the friend I saw it with is a musician. We both love music and I'll be right there cheering anything that heralds the transformative power of art. Unless said piece of art was itself crap. This was.
I don't think the director, writers, or editor knew what exactly they wanted this film to be. Is it three stories (of prodigy, mother, and father) which we watch simultaneously and see them drawn together? Is it the story of this child's genius? Is it a story of the power of music? It is attempting to be all of these, without ever succeeding. The primary problem is the script, which perhaps (to give screenwriters credit) was edited severely. Nothing is ever shown, it's told to you. We don't see the magical night Lila and Louis spend together, we merely here her say "It was the best night of my life." We see no backstory on Evan/August's life at this orphanage--we're just made to believe that his educational and social development was put on hold for 11 years. Really, he's NEVER seen a music staff before? Strange that an orphanage that lacking could afford to dress him so well. What finally made him decide to run away? Nothing had changed for him, nothing had changed with his parents to "draw" him to them. He did it, you know, just cause. I don't want to give anything away, in case for some insane reason you want to see it, so I'll only go into the story problems in the first 15 minutes.
The actors were trying their hearts out--except Robin Williams, whom I normally love but found false and unsatisfying--and in some cases were able to overcome the material and give fairly good performances(Terence Howard, Kerri Russell). Freddie Highmore is cute, but is really called upon to do little more than look glowingly happy while playing music and sad while thinking about his parents. The kid's pretty talented, how about we give him a freaking CHARACTER to play rather than an amalgam of heart-warming looks.
The attempt is noble, I suppose, but unfortunately my recommendation is to stay far, far away.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Reviewed by Elliot V. Kotek (from HATCHfest 2007 in Bozeman, Montana)
Director: Kirsten Sheridan Starring: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jamia Simone Nash, Marian Seldes, Robin Williams.
If you've ever questioned the impact of music on emotion, August Rush is a must-see that will bury any doubt for all time. Featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as rock-star Louis and Keri Russell as New York Philharmonic cellist Layla, and starring Finding Neverland's heartbreak kid, Freddie Highmore, Rush delivers an experience that borders on the sublime and somewhat sentimental in a manner that rivals Neverland and would be reminiscent of Titanic if that ship had not sunk. A stirring performance here by Russell will definitely remind end-of-year voters of her work in Waitress and should serve to solidify her chances for an Oscar-nom.
The premise: A promising musician (Russell) is impregnated by a brooding but romantic Irishman (Rhys Meyers) in a one-night affair overlooking Washington Square Park that will change the course of their lives. Despite splinters of wooden dialogue and the obvious, yet ultimately satisfying, use of the music of Van Morrison early in the proceedings, the movie moves past both and bowls audiences over with poignant performances and stunning visuals in a first-class production. Layla's protective father falsely informs his daughter that her love-child did not survive birth, and delivers the boy, Evan, to the State, where the influence of all sounds great and small fill the boy with musical ambition and intuition.
In addition to the above-the-liners already singled out, Robin Williams wows in a blinding turn as Wizard, a menacing Fagin whose Oliver Twists are young, homeless musical prodigies and whose milk-cart careers he manages in exchange for their daily take and a fancy stage name. Onto the young Evan, he bestows the moniker August Rush (inspired by a passing grocery van). Director Sheridan (Jim's daughter, Kirsten) keeps the reins on her comic Wizard, and Williams seems to subtly straddle the line between sympathetic and psychotic. Also more than merely noteworthy is Jamia Nash, an 11-year-old with some of the best lines of the flick, who boasts a healthy dose of moxie that provides the perfect counterbalance to some of the heavier themes that accompany a film about an orphan searching for parents he isn't sure exist.
While the genesis of the film may have started with producer Richard Barton Lewis's vision of his then-newborn son's little digits directing his own symphony in a Santa Monica delivery room, the screening of this film is sure to inspire many more digits to pick up and pick at a six-string just to see what happens. Here's hoping studio support for the film will see screens increase after opening to take advantage of what should be great word of mouth. With screenings set for the upcoming Heartland FIlm Festival (where the film has been branded with a Crystal Heart Award), the Rome Film Festival and elsewhere, this moving tale is sure to find itself a fixture with families worldwide.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really feel a bit ill after watching this drivel. I am a singer in a
cover band and a film buff and this hit me on both levels. I could not
stop picking it apart as to its complete lack of reality. First and
foremost the music sucks, everything sounds so fake and arranged, they
could not get those sounds out of battery powered amps and pig noses.
He plays perfectly and invents a new way to play the guitar the first time he touches it???
When he's playing on the bridge his first time out it's so awful, a rhythm part is being played while he has both hands on the upper neck of the guitar??? Quite impossible.
He just starts composing after a little girl gives him a one minute piano lesson?? Then starts playing a very complicated church organ on his first sitting, which takes years to master?? This is the equivalent of speaking perfect French after someone said bonjour to you for the first time. Even Mozart's father trained him for years.
Why does he even need to go to Julliard since he knows everything already? He's in school for a week, composes a symphony and has it played in Central park as the headliner? Where in the history of music has this happened? Then in another week he's conducting, another skill that takes years to learn.
When he's playing in the park with his father, why is there so much sound, sustain and reverb coming out of acoustic guitars? I want me one of them magic super guitars!
Then August, whose only been in NYC for a little while is able to run through subway systems, find his way to Central Park and get access to back stage where they have a tux and tails waiting for him even though he was not supposed to show.
This was so obviously directed by a woman, full of "oh it doesn't matter if it's real as long as it's beautiful" crap. And you would think as a woman she would have had a little more respect for her lead female character as to give her enough brains to ask what happened to her child? Are you saying she gave birth to a baby in a US hospital, did not have to sign one form to have it given away even though she is over 18, not one nurse or doctor said anything about the baby's health or showed it to her and there was no funeral for a supposed dead baby???
This movie is a steaming pile of excrement. I always heard you couldn't polish a turd and this one proved it right.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is not a matter of being a cynic, or lacking the level of
'imagination' *required* to like this film. I am more than able to
suspend my take on realism, when a good film warrants it, (note there
"good" film). I have more than enough imagination, in fact my problems
with this film do not even begin to touch on the lack of reality in the
situation. When it comes to a film, I'm more than happy to buy the
whole mother thinks she loses baby, but are reunited in a wonderful
climax shtick, I quite like the idea, it could have been a pretty neat
feel-good flick. In the end, I wish that it was only a little
imagination that was needed...
My main issue stems from the script itself, namely the dialogue. I don't think I have heard such stilted, forced dialogue in a highly regarded feature film. They *roped* us in, only to present this completely false interaction between two people who have almost no on screen chemistry. This schmaltzy 'what are you doing up here?' 'just thinking' scene, which somehow lead to complete love and a 'surprise' pregnancy, was just the beginning. It was downhill from there. I tried to count the clichés, and I'm not talking in the plot, merely the one liners. "I can hear him, I swear I can" "music is all around us" "I thought he was an angel" etc, painful etc. And I must stress that this has nothing to do with the plot itself, this is the script, the horrible, horrible script.
It was only during the music scenes that I found myself not wanting to walk out of the cinema (something which I have never been compelled to do). The cast was stellar, I thought Ryhs Meyers and Keri Russell would be able to make something of this, but alas, if it weren't for the adorable Jamia Simone Nash, and Freddie Highmore I doubt I would have stayed.
Maybe, someday, someone will re-write this with believable dialogue, and three-dimensional characters. Maybe then it will be a movie bordering on bearable.
This is the worst movie I've seen since "The Love Guru"! Ridiculously laughable story, hammy, bad acting, sub par music, zero chemistry between the two romantic leads, sticky sweet, implausible plot are only a few of the ways I can describe this incredibly bad movie. Robin Williams certainly did nothing for his career with this flop, and he really needs a hit movie badly. This movie is terrible on every conceivable level and it makes me wonder how thinking people could come up with a dud like this one. The fact that some people liked this movie only confirms how stupid the average American is becoming! It's no wonder it went to video so quickly!
"August Rush" gave us no rush. The story is filled with practical
impossibilities necessary to the plot, such as the fraudulent adoption
papers, or Evan/August/boy Novacek not being adopted before reaching
the age of self-expression. Perhaps set as a period piece such
inanities might have flown by, but even fairy tales have to ring true
at some level. None of the interactions between Keri Russell and
Jonathan Rhys Meyers make any sense. Terrence Howard and Mikelti
Williamson are wasted as mere, inconsistent plot devices. Robin
Williams seems to be making a different movie than everyone else.
Look, we're not cynics; we love "Love, Actually," "About a Boy," and all of Frank Capra, but the story has to seduce you in, not knock you to your knees; has to have a level of believability that doesn't require you to swallow logs when straining at gnats.
This was a dud. And we wanted it so bad to succeed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(*Spoilers*) Famous concert cellist Lyla has a one night stand with
rocker Louis that produces a son Evan (aka August) who is
surreptitiously sent to an orphanage by Lyla's controlling father
because he believes the child may harm Lyla's career. After these
opening scenes we rejoin the story when August is about twelve. Then
the separate paths of the three protagonists are traced until their
inevitable reunion. It would take more than a thousand words to detail
all the preposterous story lines. Let's just consider a few. August is
a musical genius who would easily put Mozart to shame: he becomes a
skilled guitarist within the first hour of exposure to a guitar; he
starts composing and notating a symphony immediately after being shown
the basic scales; he can play an organ, complete with pedals and stops,
on a first try; he is skilled enough to conduct the New York
Philharmonic; in the final scene we come to understand he has a certain
level of extrasensory perception. There are some equally absurd things
that could be said about Lyla's story.
I suppose this would all be well and good if this were clearly presented as fantasy, but as far as I could tell we are expected to ascribe some element of belief to the happenings. There is a serious problem with this--such stories advance the "you can be anything you want to be" philosophy without any discussion of how that can frustrate kids when they realize that it's simply not true. Young people who watch this movie could be led to believe that accomplishments occur without the long hard work required, no matter how talented they are.
Freddy Highmar (as August) has a winning screen presence and an infectious smile, but I am not sure his acting ability is beyond that of the charming kid next door.
The most infuriating thing is that there is the kernel of a good movie here. The scenes illustrating August's sensitivity to all manner of sounds is well done. I'm sure that this is true of most musicians and I would liked to have seen that explored in more detail. Some of the guitar work is excellent and I think there must have been someone behind the scenes with a developed musical sense, it's too bad that that person (or persons) was not given more free reign.
This is an unfortunate misfire.
In the Walden County Home for Boys, the eleven year-old orphan Evan
Taylor (Freddie Highmore) dreams on the day that his unknown parents
will bring him home. He listens to the sounds everywhere and he is
bullied by the older boys that mock him.
Eleven years ago, the cellist Lyla Novaceck (Keri Russell) and the vocalist and guitarist of a pop band Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) spend one night together, but Lyla travels with her father Thomas Novacek (William Sadler) on the next morning and they never see each other again. Lyla gets pregnant but she has an accident and when she awakes in the hospital, her father tells her that she lost her baby. Louis unsuccessfully seeks out Lyla and coincidently they both quit music.
One day, Evan flees from the orphanage and goes to New York, following the sounds and expecting to meet his parents. Evan befriends a boy that brings him to an old building where he meets the exploiter "Wizard", who takes advantage of children that beg for him in the Central Park. "Wizard" recognizes that Evan is a prodigy and makes money with him, changing his name to August Rush since there is a social services agent seeking him out. When August visits a church, the pastor indicates him to the Julliard. Meanwhile Lyla learns that she has a son and Louis still seeks her out, and they both restart their careers of musicians.
"August Rush" is a wonderful fairy tale of music and love. I bought this DVD a couple of years ago and I have not given any attention to this film and only today I have watched it. The delightful story has pleasant characters and even the "Wizard" is a nice villain. The unbelievable plot has holes, like the exaggerated talent of the boy or why Louis is not able to locate Lyla, but who cares? They are part of the magic of this film. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "O Som do Coração" ("The Sound of the Heart")
This movie was not really worth my time. The previews made it look significantly more coherent and put together, but the plot lines in this movie are all over the place, and the weak music score does little to tie it all together. Meant to be inspirational, the movie comes off as silly and contrived, and in parts laughable. Too many characters, back stories, and side stories are introduced and left unattended. The love story between Lyla (Kerri Russel) and Louis (Jonathan Rys Myers) is passionless and boring. Freddy Highmore, as the title character, is frankly creepy throughout much of the movie. And since the movie revolves around music and the fact that August is a "prodigy", more effort should have been put into teaching the kid to look like he knew anything about music or conducting. The score for the movie is merely adequate, as is the entire movie itself.
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