Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) has been living in a boys’ orphanage just outside of New York City all of his life. The 11-year-old is kind, clever, and whimsical, which makes fitting in with the older kids, who constantly bully him for his “strangeness”, difficult. Another source of tension is the fact that Evan is convinced that he is not an orphan, that his parents are out there, that they want him and simply don’t know where he is. Though Evan is right about having parents, his mother doesn’t know that he’s alive and his father never even knew he existed. Evan’s quest to reunite with a family that isn’t looking for him is the focus of the modern-day fairy tale better known as August Rush.
This beautiful family drama begins when Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a cellist studying at the Julliard School, and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the lead singer and guitarist for The Connelly Brothers, an Irish rock band, meet and fall in love on one fateful night. When Lyla rushes off the next morning, worried about breaking curfew, and the two don’t exchange phone numbers, and try as they might, they don’t meet again. Louis is so heartbroken that he leaves his band, while Lyla, after discovering she’s pregnant, leaves school, to the irritation of her controlling father. Lyla and Lewis both try fervently, yet fruitlessly, to see one another again, determined to reunite. When a horrible accident and a malicious decision result in Lyla believing that her son is dead, she (like Louis) gives up music altogether, choosing to teach rather than pursue a musical career of her own.
While both Louis and Lyla have pretty much given up on love and true happiness, Evan a musical savant who hears the music in everything, believes that he will find his family if he simply follows the music, so this is exactly what he sets out to do when he runs away from the orphanage one day. Following the music, Evan befriends Arthur (Leon Thomas III), a gifted young singer and guitarist, who also happens to be a fellow runaway. Arthur introduces Evan to Maxwell (Robin Williams), a musical genius known as “Wizard” to the many children he houses in an old, condemned theater. Wizard teaches talented, homeless children music and “employs” them as street performers. So impressed is he with Evan’s natural aptitude that the Wizard quickly takes the boy under his wing.
As Evan tackles the uncertainty and fear of being truly on his own for the first time in his life, he find help from unexpected sources, his sincerity attracting the kindness of various strangers, and after 11 years of going through the motions, Louis and Lyla decide to start following the music again, repairing their own broken hearts and lives. On his journey to his family, Evan finds himself, and his parents rediscover themselves. August Rush is beautiful, tender, uplifting, and the very definition of heartwarming.
I give this one 4.5 stars.