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August Rush
cast: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams, and William Sadler

director: Kirsten Sheridan

110 minutes (PG) 2007
widescreen ratio 16:9
EIV DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Explosion, murder, debauchery, kidnapping and gore - these are just some of the words you absolutely will not read when describing this wonderful film. August Rush is a modern fairytale and drama bundled up into a slightly corny, but nonetheless charming, story.

The film is named after the main character played by the excellent young actor Freddie Highmore (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland). August is a musical prodigy, orphaned by circumstance and who dreams of one day finding and reuniting with his parents; a dream he believes his musical talents will help him achieve as, to August, they are all bonded through music and upon hearing his music his parents will know it is him.

It can get a touch slushy at times, and without spoiling the ending, it does end a touch contrived and slightly far-fetched. However, this is a film in a very similar vein to About A Boy and whilst the soundtrack doesn't match Badly Drawn Boy's superb offering it is quite enjoyable, mixing many genres and styles. Interestingly some of the cast contribute to the soundtrack (always a good sign) and there are some competent takes on old classics as well as some old classics from Bach etc.

Music is the cornerstone of much of the film and many of the characters emotions and desires and expressed through music's universal language. The story has some limitations but the delivery of the plot by the strong cast with clear direction overcomes this, and the story is arguably the only weak point of the film is Robin Williams, who has a short role as the 'Wizard', apparently based his character on U2's Bono. If this is true then it is a darn good impression. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham) and Keri Russell (a Golden Globe winner for Felicity) play August's estranged parents. Whilst his parents have put their own musical careers on hold, August is just beginning his. He is manipulated and moved around before finding his home at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York, and from then on his talents flourish.

Ireland's Kirsten Sheridan directs the movie well and handles the awkwardness of August's situation with great empathy, making the viewer connect with the young musician straight away, and there will some among you with a lump in your throat. It is great to see a young female director making waves in what is essentially a very patriarchal industry, particularly behind the camera. August Rush is human-interest film for all the family with an excellent cast, fantastic soundtrack and sound storyline; it is a film well worth a couple of hours of our busy lives.

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