Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"August Rush"

Drama starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, William Sadler. Directed by Kirsten Sheridan. One magical night in early 1997 Louis Connelly (Meyers), the lead vocalist and bassist in an Irish rock band comprised of his brothers, meets classical cellist Lyla Novacek at a New York City party. They make love under the stars on the rooftop of an apartment building overlooking Washington Square and fall asleep in each other’s arms. They awake the next morning, each vowing to meet that evening under the Washington Square arch (despite the fact that there’s absolutely no chemistry between them.). For reasons too idiotic to go into here, that meeting never takes place. Lyla soon realizes she is pregnant as a result of her tryst and decides to keep the baby. However, following an argument with her domineering father Thomas (Sadler) near her due date. Lyla storms out of a building, onto a Manhattan street where she is struck by an unseen vehicle. When she regains consciousness in a hospital, Thomas tells her she has lost the baby. In reality, the child was saved, but Thomas has given the child up for adoption. Flash forward 13 years. Lyla has become a music teacher in Chicago, Louis is some kind of businessman in San Francisco and their son, Evan, has run away from the upstate New York orphanage convinced that if only his parents can hear the music swirling around in his head, they will come and find him. Does that happen? Are there stars in the sky?

Evan (who, while born and raised in New York, manages to have an English accent, I assume in tribute to the father he’s never met) escapes to New York and (where else?) Washington Square where he becomes Oliver to a Fagin that wants people to refer to him as Wizard (Williams). By this time any sensible viewer has put away all concepts of logic and reality with one unbelievable coincidence piling on top of another all the way to the sappy finale which finds Evan — now renamed August Rush by Wizard — conducting the New York Philharmonic in a symphony he composed himself while studying at Julliard. Now, I’ve always believed in the redemptive power of music; in fact, some will argue my entire life has been guided by this concept. I do know that the Rolling Stones’s "Brown Sugar" can and has pulled me out of many a serious depressive state. But this film takes that concept to patently absurd lengths. Grade: F

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