“August Rush,” review by Susan Granger

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One of the cinematic blessings of this Thanksgiving season is this heart-warming, life-affirming fantasy from first-time director Kirsten Sheridan (Jim Sheridan’s 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.”

Rush’s story actually begins 11 years earlier on a rooftop high above Manhattan’s 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 Lyla’s 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 haven’t 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 Evan’s 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 he’d deceived her.

The screenplay – credited to Nick Castle, James V. Hart and Paul Castro – strains credulity but Mark Mancina’s music makes up for it. Blending rock, classical and gospel, it’s 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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.