August Rush is a 2007 American drama film directed by Kirsten Sheridan and produced by Richard Barton Lewis. The screenplay is by Nick Castle and James V. Hart, with a story by Paul Castro and Castle. It involves an 11-year-old musical prodigy living in an orphanage who runs away to New York City. He begins to unravel the mystery of who he is, all while his mother is searching for him and his father is searching for her. The many different sounds and rhythms he hears throughout his journey culminates in a major instrumental composition which concludes the film ("August's Rhapsody").
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kirsten Sheridan|
|Produced by||Richard Barton Lewis|
|Screenplay by||Nick Castle|
James V. Hart
|Story by||Paul Castro|
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Edited by||William Steinkamp|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$65.3 million|
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In 1995, Lyla Novacek is a cellist studying at the Juilliard School and living under strict rule of her father. Louis Connelly is the lead singer of "The Connelly Brothers", an Irish rock band. They meet at a party after their respective concerts, and have a sexual encounter on the rooftop. The day after, they separate in a hurry, and are unable to maintain contact as Lyla is ushered away by her father to Chicago. Lyla is also aware that she is pregnant. Later, when in New York City, after an argument with her father over her unborn child, she is struck by a car. She gives birth prematurely, and her father secretly puts the baby boy up for adoption under her name, allowing Lyla to believe that her son died.
Eleven years later, Evan Taylor is living in a boys' orphanage outside New York City, where he meets Richard Jeffries, a social worker with Child and Family Services. Evan has the savant-like ability to hear music wherever he is, making him a bullying target for the older orphans. Convinced that his parents will find him, Evan runs away to New York City, "following the music" in the hope it will lead him to his family. He finds a boy named Arthur busking in Washington Square Park.
Louis, who left the band the same night Lyla was struck, now lives in San Francisco as an agent, while Lyla now lives in Chicago teaching music. Louis reconnects with his brothers at a birthday party for one of the other band members, and after an argument and fistfight, he decides to reconnect with the woman he now knows is Lyla. Lyla is called to her father's deathbed, where he confesses that her son is alive, since her father believed that he was only doing it for both him and his daughter and that her son could have destroyed her future. Lyla abandons her father and leaves to look for her son.
Evan follows Arthur to his home in a condemned theater, and is taken in by Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace, a vagrant, arrogant, and aggressive musician who teaches homeless children music and employs them as street performers. Evan tries playing Wizard's prize guitar, Roxanne (a Gibson J150ec), and is so good that Wizard gives him the guitar and his old spot in Washington Square Park (both of which were previously Arthur's). He gives Evan the stage name "August Rush" and tries to market him to clubs. Seeing the posters that Jeffries has placed for the runaway Evan, Wizard destroys all the ones he finds, hoping to keep Evan for his own gain.
On arriving at Lyla's apartment in Chicago, Louis talks to one of her neighbors, who mistakenly tells Louis she is on her honeymoon. Despairing, he ends up in New York, where he gets his band back together. After Jeffries meets Wizard and Arthur on the street and becomes suspicious, the police raid the derelict theatre in which Wizard and his "children" are living. The police spot Arthur, but Evan draws their attention and runs; Wizard helps Evan evade the police, telling him never to reveal his real name to anyone. Evan (now "August") takes refuge in a church where a young girl, Hope, introduces him to the piano and written music. He picks up both skills so quickly that Hope gets the attention of the parish pastor, who takes August to Juilliard where he once again impresses the faculty. A rhapsody takes shape from August's notes and homework.
In New York, Lyla goes to Jeffries' office, and Jeffries identifies Evan as her son. While looking for him, she takes up the cello again and accepts an offer to perform with the Philharmonic at a series of concerts in Central Park. August is selected to perform the rhapsody he has been composing at the same concert. However, Wizard interrupts the rehearsal and claims to be his father, and manages to pull August out of the school.
On the day of the concert, August is back in his spot in Washington Square, while Wizard makes plans to smuggle him around the country to play. He meets Louis and, unaware of their blood relationship, they have an impromptu guitar duet. August tells him of his dilemma, and Louis encourages him to go. That evening, with help from Arthur, August escapes from Wizard through the subway and heads for his concert. Louis, after his own performance with his reunited band, sees Lyla's name on one of the banners and also heads for the park. Jeffries finds a misplaced flyer for "August Rush" with a picture, and also heads for the concert.
August arrives in time to conduct his rhapsody, which attracts both Lyla and Louis to the audience, where they are reunited. August finishes his rhapsody and as he turns to discover his parents, he smiles knowing that he has been right all along.
- Freddie Highmore as Evan Taylor / "August Rush"
- Keri Russell as Lyla Novacek, Evan's mother
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Louis Connelly, Evan's father
- Robin Williams as Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace
- Terrence Howard as Counselor Richard Jeffries
- William Sadler as Thomas Novacek, Evan's maternal grandfather
- Marian Seldes as Dean Alice MacNeil
- Jamia Simone Nash as Hope
- Mykelti Williamson as Reverend James
- Leon Thomas III as Arthur
- Alex O'Loughlin as Marshall Connelly, Evan's paternal uncle
- Bonnie McKee as Lizzy
- Timothy Mitchum as Joey
- Becki Newton as Jennifer
- Aaron Staton as Nick
- Ronald Guttman as The Professor
- Michael Drayer as Mannix
- Dominic Colón as Policeman
Written by Van Morrison, Performed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers
- "This Time"
Written by Chris Trapper, Performed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers
- "Bari Improv"
Written by Mark Mancina and Kaki King, Performed by Kaki King
- "Ritual Dance"
Written by Michael Hedges, Performed by Kaki King
- "Raise It Up"
Written by Impact Repertory Theatre, Performed by Jamia Simone Nash and Impact Repertory Theatre
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song
- "Dueling Guitars"
Written by Heitor Pereira, Performed by Heitor Pereira and Doug Smith
Written by J. Stephens, Performed by John Legend
- "King of the Earth"
Written and Performed by John Ondrasik
- "God Bless the Child"
Written by Arthur Herzog, Jr. and Billie Holiday, Performed by Chris Botti and Paula Cole
- "La Bamba"
Performed by Leon Thomas III
- "August's Rhapsody"
Written by Mark Mancina
The final number with Lyla and Louis begins with Lyla playing the Adagio-Moderato from Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor.
Except for "Dueling Guitars", all of August's guitar pieces were played by American guitarist-composer Kaki King. King's hands are used in close-ups for August Rush.
Composer Mark Mancina spent over a year and a half composing the score of August Rush. "The heart of the story is how we respond and connect through music. It's about this young boy who believes that he's going to find his parents through his music. That's what drives him." The final theme of the movie was composed first. "That way I could take bits and pieces of the ending piece and relate it to the things that are happening in (August's) life. All of the themes are pieces of the puzzle, so at the end it means something because you've been subliminally hearing it throughout the film." The score was recorded at the Todd-AO Scoring Stage and the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers.
August Rush received mixed to negative reviews from film critics. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 37% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 110 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Though featuring a talented cast, August Rush cannot overcome the flimsy direction and schmaltzy plot." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 38 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally negative reviews".
In a review by USA Today, Claudia Puig commented that "August Rush will not be for everyone, but it works if you surrender to its lilting and unabashedly sentimental tale of evocative music and visual poetry." The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film positively, writing "the story is about musicians and how music connects people, so the movie's score and songs, created by composers Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer, give poetic whimsy to an implausible tale."
Pam Grady of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "an inane musical melodrama." Grady said "the entire story is ridiculous" and "Coincidences pile on, behavior and motivations defy logic, and the characters are so thinly drawn that most of the cast is at a loss." Edward Douglas of comingsoon.net said it "does not take long for the movie to reveal itself as an extremely contrived and predictable movie that tries too hard to tug on the heartstrings."
A musical theatre adaptation of August Rush premiered on May 3, 2019, at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. The book was written by Glen Berger, the music was composed by Mark Mancina, and the lyrics were written by both Berger and Mancina. The play was directed by John Doyle.
- Crisafulli, Chuck & Graff, Gary. "And The Best Original Song Oscar Nominees Are..." Billboard. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- Crisafulli, Chuck. "After a year and a half, the 'August' pieces fit". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
- Dan Goldwasser. "Scoring Session Photo Gallery from August Rush". ScoringSessions.com. Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- "August Rush — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- "August Rush (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- Puig, Claudia (2007-11-23). "Lilting 'August Rush' is poetry in emotion". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- Honeycutt, Kirk (November 8, 2007). "August Rush". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- Pam Grady (2007-11-21). "Review: Orphan has a song in his heart in 'August Rush'". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- "August Rush - Review Comments". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Roger Ebert (2007-11-21). "August Rush". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- Smith, Sid (2007-11-21). "August Rush (Oliver Twist reset in N.Y.) — 2 stars". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
Turn to the master, Charles Dickens, or better yet, update and recycle him. Such must have been the thinking behind August Rush, a thinly disguised retelling of Oliver Twist, transplanted to contemporary New York and sweetened by a theme of the healing magic of music.
- Covert, Colin (2007-11-20). "Movie review: Romanticism trumps reason in Rush". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
If Charles Dickens were alive today, he might be writing projects like August Rush, the unabashedly sentimental tale of a plucky orphan lad who falls in with streetwise urchins as he seeks the family he ought to have. Come to think of it, Dickens did write that one, and called it Oliver Twist.
- Jones, Chris (May 1, 2019). "August Rush Is a New Broadway-Bound Musical – First at the Paramount in Aurora". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- Mielke, Randall G. (April 8, 2019). "August Rush, Paramount's First World Premiere Broadway Series Show, to Open April 24". Aurora Beacon-News. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- Vitello, Barbara (April 21, 2019). "Acclaimed Director Helms August Rush Premiere at Aurora's Paramount". Daily Herald. Retrieved May 4, 2019.