Wednesday, October 19, 2011

August Rush

By s. Wednesday, October 19, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(114 min, 2007)
Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Writers: Nick Castle (screenplay), James V. Hart (screenplay)
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Saccharine sounds

As a romantic, I love heartwarming movies and fairy tales - I believe in soapy stuff like soul mates, destiny, love at first sight - it's rare, but one can't be sure it doesn't happen. But I hate too much sugar and sweetness and there is such thing as too much sentimentality in a film - „August Rush” is an example of the sentimentality and sweet lovey dovey moments in such concentration it will make you nauseous, maybe even sick to the point you fast forward.

The story goes like that – Lyla, violinist and Louis, singer for rock band spend the night together and fall in love. The boy is not right for her according to her dad, so their ways part. But a child is born some time later and because of lies and intrigue Lyla doesn't know it is alive. 11 years later that child uses music to find his parents.

The child, named Evan has a wondrous music gift and can create symphonies out of nowhere – too bad that, except for the last few moments in the movie, those symphonies of his sounded more like irritating noise to me. I never thought I'm going to say that but „The Soloist” puts this movie to shame in this area. And „The Soloist” is an awful movie. Plus the amazing gift to create music subplot doesn't even work here - it's too absurd. When you are watching a movie like this you are supposed to automatically buy the things you see. When I was watching "Perfume" I didn't have to wonder why Grenouille had this amazing gift of hightened scent, I just kept watching the movie without any "but how?". Here not only I couldn't listen to that "music" without cringing, its origin - which basically was, what? God, magic, unicorns and rainbows? - puzzled me throughout the film.

To make matters worse the kid is played by Freddie Highmore, whom I can't stand. The kid apparently impressed Johnny Depp because after they worked in „Finding Neverland” Depp recommended him for „Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Why, I can't understand. He is not awful. but he is so whiny and acts so silly I really can't care for him enough to stare at his actions for 120 minutes. Haley Joel Osment used to bug me too, but not to this level.
I have no problem with fairytale elements, but somewhere around the time when Robin Williams appears, he begins to ruin the movie. The Lyla/Louis story is fantastic to watch, but halfway through the film I didn't care about the kid and what is going on around him. Williams's awful performance was so annoying it reminded me of those creepy old people from each part of „Home Alone” and brought the, at first, magical movie to the level of Disney's television movies played on TV on Sunday's afternoon. I'm reading Williams was inspired by Bono during creating that character, well, in that case If I were Bono I'd sue. Why was he in the movie? Because every time kids and fairy tales are involved Williams just has to be on screen?

And about that sentimentality – that is the movie you can't understand, dissect – you have to feel its mood and take a leap of faith. You have to get in this fragile, amazing mood when you sense everything is possible. Too bad the cluster, the noise and awful scenes with Williams snap you out of this illusion, brutally. The movie is too uneven to be good. There are really good scenes, only to be followed by awful ones, the screenplay seems like a raw version which nobody corrected and director Kirsten Sheridan's work is so lousy no wonder she didn't direct any more movies since “August Rush”.

It is a shame, a big shame because the scenes with Lyla and Louis, then Lyla's frantic effort to find her son and Louis's search for Lyla are wonderful. Now, had the movie only focused on them, it would easily get at least 8 stars from me. I can't believe Jonathan Rhys Meyers played nice guy. He always seems very arrogant to me and his performances proved that – he is always so good playing jerks, sending the women he lusts over to get their head cut off or shooting them with huge shotgun himself. Here he is very sweet and even vulnerable - I was stunned. And Keri Russel who played sweet violinist Lyla was very good too – her angelic looks fit the character and she was convincing plus she had few really good scenes.

The music in the movie is altogether messy but has some good moments – I forgot how well Meyers can sing – after all he sung in „Velvet Goldmine” which I love, but it is always astonishing to me when I watch the movie and suddenly I hear actors singing better than most vocalists nowadays.

"August Rush"is worth watching for Lyla/Louis story, some decent songs and quite good final sequence, which, ironically is not sweet enough – no hugs? No kisses? I have to admit - that is one peculiar movie, but most of all it's very overrated.


  1. I really hate this film. It wasn't the sentimentality that bothered me but the fact that I didn't buy the fact that this kid could be some musical prodigy though it's meant to be part of the fantasy genre. I was annoyed by Robin Williams but that wasn't as bad as some of the editing. The scenes where August was playing guitar, there is a real sense of discontinuity that really aggravated me. You see the fingers but if you look closely. It's obvious it's done by another person whose fingers look much older while the playing itself isn't any good at all. It's just smug and pretentious. These are the kind of films I despise.

    Still, this is a really excellent review.

  2. Thanks! Yes, Robin Williams was very bad. Since I don't know much about playing instrument I didn't notice the fingers thing, but I believe it was very sloppy editing. There this new movie "Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud" and for some reason the vibe I got off trailer reminded me of "August Rush". Apparantly this one is not very good either.