One of the cinematic blessings of this Thanksgiving season is this heart-warming, life-affirming fantasy from first-time director Kirsten Sheridan (Jim Sheridans daughter).
Listen, can you hear the music? inquires August Rush (Freddie Highmore). I can hear it everywhere I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales.
Rushs story actually begins 11 years earlier on a rooftop high above Manhattans Washington Square, where a lovely cellist, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), has an idyllic interlude with an Irish rock singer, Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). They arrange to meet again the following night, but her domineering, career-obsessed father (William Saldler) prevents it. Nine months later, the boy who becomes August Rush is born, but Lylas father tells her the baby died at birth and gives him up for adoption.
Raised as Evan Taylor in an upstate orphanage, he longs for the parents he knows are out there somewhere – and since they havent found him, he runs away to find them. Lost and alone in Central Park, he befriends a young street guitarist (Leon G. Thomas) who introduces him to the Wizard (Robin Williams), a modern-day Fagin who spots his musical talent and dubs him August Rush. But Evans an authentic prodigy and winds up conducting a Julliard concert in Central Park. Meanwhile, a conscientious social worker (Terrence Howard) is searching for him, as is heartbroken Lyla, whose father confessed on his deathbed how hed deceived her.
The screenplay – credited to Nick Castle, James V. Hart and Paul Castro – strains credulity but Mark Mancinas music makes up for it. Blending rock, classical and gospel, its integral as a uniting force. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, August Rush is an engaging 8, a magical, musical adventure, geared for families.