The story begins with a moment poised on a possibility.
Some may say it's a narrow possibility. They may say that an orphaned boy cannot become a musical prodigy, go to Juilliard, and go to New York City in search of his parents who until then, didn't know he existed, all within mere months. Frankly, I don't care about any of that. I do care about the music that rose in me while watching "August Rush," and the emotion which stirred in the silences weaving through it.
Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) is a professional cellist performing with the New York Philharmonic at the same time Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the lead singer in a successful band, is rocking to a soulful tune. It is made clear that their music, however different, has the same inspiration. No wonder it's love at first sight -- the two seem to fall on the same chord. Their overnight affair is done tastefully -- a rarity in Hollywood these days. The two lovers are torn apart the next day, and in their pain, give up on music. Lyla becomes pregnant, but when she gets hit by a car, she is told that her son has died prematurely.
Eleven years later, Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) sets out to follow the music. He feels that if he could just play it, maybe his parents could hear it.
Evan encounters different sorts of people in New York City, like the Wizard (Robin Williams), a formidable loner who lives off kids' talents. Though the Wizard may have good intentions, he comes across as very sinister and Robin Williams plays the part well. He is enthralled by Evan's remarkable abilities -- one day Evan sits down next to a guitar and begins to strum out a brilliant masterpiece based on a single four-note melody.
Evan continues to amaze people -- streetwalkers, a church choir (where he cranks out a colossal organ performance), and eventually, Juilliard. He even writes a rhapsody commissioned for the New York Philharmonic. The twist? Evan's mother will be playing her first solo performance since 11 years prior at the same concert. Lyla has also been desperately trying to find her son, whom she just found out existed. What happens is a beautiful meeting of three lost souls.
Freddie Highmore simply amazed me in this movie. He was able to convey a boy who is incredibly naive and candid without making it seem silly. He acts with his eyes and his mouth constantly. Though the other actors were good, Highmore clearly stood out.
This is probably the best movie about music I've seen since "Mr. Holland's Opus" (1995). Yes, it's a bit cheesy. Yes, it's predictable. But more importantly, it is graceful, powerful and hopeful. The screen went black at the end and I heard whispers of, "Oh my God..." before a dynamic round of applause.
Allison Eck is a senior at Clarence.
Review: Four stars (out of four)