So I am going to write a movie review... I haven't had much luck with these in the past, I usually cannot remember all of the great details that a good movie review needs to have. However, I recently watched a movie that moved me more than any movie has for quite some time. So I feel a great compulsion to share my thoughts with the world at large. (Or at least whoever happens to read this, which is admittedly not many.)
August Rush is first and foremost, a fairy tale. Unabashedly, it takes us through the fantasy of an orphanage-raised boy who dreams, as most children in such a place do, of finally finding his parents. Whether or not he does in the end is almost never in doubt. It is almost never unsure of whether or not this movie will have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the tension and suspense are far greater than anything I have ever witnessed in a cinematic experience.
But first, I suppose I really should outline more of the story before I give away the climax.
Evan Taylor hears music, feels music all around him. "I believe in music like some people believe in fairy tales." And he believes that this music originates with his parents. Despite the taunts of the bullies who live in the boy's home with him, he continues to believe that if he can only learn to make the music he hears that he will somehow be able to call to his parents and they will return to him.
Through flashbacks, we learn that his mother and father are two very gifted musicians who meet only once on a magical night where music brings them together. His mother plays the cello in an orchestra, and his father is lead guitar and singer for a rock band. One night, they each have absolutely amazing performances, seperately of course. The magic of cinema however melds these two performances together into what has become one of my favorite tracks on the movie soundtrack as it jumps back and forth from the formal concert hall to the dark and smoky club joining classical Bach with a heartfelt rock ballad that really must move anyone with the smallest love of music.
After their respective concerts, the two musicians, still dazed with wonder at the intensity of their performances are dragged to a party by their friends where they meet on the rooftop where they have both gone to escape the crowd and ponder on the wonder of their music. In a beautifully directed scene, they meet, talk briefly and then, to the sound of a street performer playing Van Morrison's "Moondance" on a harmonica they fall instantly in love.
The next morning, fate intervenes to seperate them. He by his bandmates, she by her controlling father. He never knows that he has fathered a child, but continues to pine for her, even writing a song about her which is another great track on the soundtrack cd.
She carries the child to term, but before giving birth is hit by a car and when she wakes up in the hospital, her father tells her the child has died.
Both parents fall into a depression, and abandon their music. Meanwhile, Evan grows up in the boy's home, hearing the music and hoping for a chance to play it for a large enough audience to call them back to him. Eventually, he runs away from the home and makes his way to the city where he does finally get a chance to learn to perform music. Robin Williams plays an eerily insane character who is easy to love, hate, and fear simultaneously. "The Wizard" is a sort of modern day Fagin who teaches his youthful gang to panhandle for money by playing music instead of thievery.
Eventually Evan is discovered by someone who is able to get him admitted to the Julliard school where he writes the August Rhapsody as the piece of music that will finally bring his parents back to him. His innate musical genius is such that he is even given the opportunity to have the New York Philharmonic perform his work in a concert in Central Park.
Although the final climactic scene is largely predictable, I found myself holding my breath with watering eyes as Evan's music crescendoed. I think it is the music as much as anything that allows the dramatic tension to be preserved, and which keeps the viewer invested in the final scene despite its formulaic happy ending. As his parents make their way through the crowd, drawn by the music that they have both been hearing throughout the eleven years of their seperation one feels almost to shout at them to find each other, and to find the wonderful, sweet and talented son that neither of them knew that they had.
In the end, the ending is happy; and that is no surprise. But I was left breathless by this wonderful movie. Most of all, the soundtrack is the driving force behind everything good about this movie. I have nothing really bad to say about it. It is a movie that I will not hesitate to watch over and over again, if only to listen to the wonderful music.
If you have any love for music at all, or would like to, then you must take the time to watch August Rush.
You will never be able to listen to music in the same way again.
Monday May 19, 2008 - 11:11pm (EDT)
© 2008 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved