Personally I blame 9/11. Of course there were ‘feel good’ movies before but now we have to endure ‘feel even better’ movies. The former were implausible but often likeable, the latter stretch the bounds of credibility to the point that you will have reaching for the sick bag. Suspension of disbelief is one thing but asking audiences to disengage the brain entirely is quite another.
August Rush (“an incredible story of love and music” directed in 2007 by Kirsten Sheridan) is built around the worthy premise that music has the power to heal wounds and change lives.
This enables an 11-year-old orphan boy to use his prodigious abilities to reconnect him with the parents he’s never seen but knows in his heart are out there somewhere. All he has to do is follow the music – the universe will do the rest.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the rock’n’roll Dad (Louis) and Keri Russell (Lyla) is the cello playing Mom. Freddie Highmore is the kid (Evan Taylor) – the fruit of a one night stand. A sprinkling of movie moon dust means that Louis and Liz pass 11 years without showing the slightest sign of ageing. The unfortunate side effect of this is that they are physically incapable of making contact with each other after their one night of passion so Louis knows nothing when Lyla discovers she is pregnant .
When the son is born prematurely, Lyla’s mean father , fearing for her musical career, tells her the child was stillborn and little Evan is sent away to a New York orphanage (the truth only comes out when the father confesses his guilty secret on his death-bed).
Because Evan has such amazing musical genes, he makes Mozart seem like a late starter. He needs no training to play guitar, piano and organ like a maestro or to compose a symphony from scratch. Initially he is discovered by Robin Williams as a preposterous Fagin-like character known as ‘Wizard’ , a wandering minstrel who runs a Fame school for child-drop outs turned buskers. Evan is given the stage name August Rush (a name seen on the side of a passing van) so that he doesn’t have to go back to the orphanage (even though he didn’t really run away in the first place!).
To cut a long , and ridiculous, story short Mom, Dad and love child are magically reunited. Altogether – aaaaaaaaahhhhh (or, in my case, uuuuurghhhh)
“Heaven is all around,translated to sound”, said the late guitar genius Michael Hedges (whose Ritual Dance is one of the pieces played in the film).
I can happily go along with the notion of music having such a magical and mystical power but this no excuse for the mind numbing level of schmaltzy nonsense presented in this movie.
The Sound of Music comes across as gritty social realism by comparison.