Directed by Kirsten Sheridan and released in 2007, "August Rush" stars British actor Freddie Highmore as an orphaned musical prodigy who searches for his parents in New York City. Punctuated by composer Mark Mancina's moving score, the film explores the ideas of hope, perseverance and the love of family, as well as the effecting power of music and how music connects and characterizes important moments in the lives of the characters.
The film opens on Evan Taylor (portrayed by Highmore) an 11-year-old orphan who hears music in everything and believes that if he can learn to play the music, his parents will hear it and come to find him. The film soon cuts to his parents 11 years earlier. Lyla, a concert cellist, and Louis, a guitarist, meet at a party by chance and fall in love at first sight. The two end up spending the night together, and Lyla becomes pregnant with Evan. Through a series of events, the two never meet again until the end of the film. Lyla, who is hit by a car during her pregnancy, goes into premature labor. Her father, fearing for her career, tells her that the child has died, secretly giving Evan up for adoption. Feeling that he must find his parents on his own, Evan runs away to New York City and is soon revealed to be a musical prodigy after meeting a child musician, Arthur, who lets Evan play his guitar. Arthur soon introduces Evan to Wizard, a greedy con man who takes in children from the streets and exploits their talents for profit. He soon realizes that Evan is gifted and sets him up in a park with Arthur's guitar, giving him the name August Rush from an advertisement. When the abandoned building in which they reside is raided by the police, August flees, taking shelter in a church were he decides to play the organ. A pastor hears his playing and, realizing his talent, sends him to the Julliard School.
Wizard, fearing the loss of his most talented ward and the money August earned him, begins to search for August, only to find him at Julliard after seeing his name on a poster. August has prospered quickly into a gifted composer and is preparing for his first symphony in the park. Knowing August to be Evan Taylor, Wizard blackmails August into returning to the streets with him, threatening to reveal his true identity if he does not comply. As they are making their way through a subway tunnel with Arthur, August pleads with Wizard to allow him to perform his symphony. Wizard refuses and threatens to hurt August, prompting Arthur to hit Wizard with his guitar, knocking him to the ground to give August time to escape.
Returning to the park, August begins to perform his symphony. Lyla -- who has learned that her son is alive and has been searching for Evan Taylor throughout the film, unaware that he is August Rush -- suddenly finds herself hearing the music of August's aymphony and hurries to the park. Louis, who has been searching for Lyla throughout the film, sees her name on a poster for the concert, where she is scheduled to perform. Hearing the music of the symphony, he leaves his cab to search for Lyla at the park. The film closes with Lyla and Louis coming together once again at the front of the crowd with August turning to see them, holding hands. August then smiles, knowing the two to be his parents.
The Role of Music
The film is driven by music and how the characters respond to, and connect through, music. August's symphony is broken into various pieces of music heard throughout the film, as though they are relating moments in August's life to puzzle pieces that come together at the end of the film to form one large puzzle: August's Symphony. All of the characters seem to be guided through their lives and subsequently towards one another through music, each hearing and following the same songs as though through supernatural means. Lyla appears to hear and play the same song at her concert early in the film that Louis is playing at a club miles away. Likewise, both Lyla and Louis hear August's symphony later in the film and begin to move towards it, even though both characters are miles away from the concert area.
- "August Rush"; Kirsten Sheridan, Director; 2007
- "Chicago Sun Times"; August Rush; Roger Ebert; November 2007
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