Film / August Rush
I believe in music the way that some people believe in fairy tales.

August Rush is a 2007 Academy Award-nominated drama film directed by Kirsten Sheridan and written by Paul Castro, Nick Castle, and James V. Hart, and produced by Richard Barton Lewis. It has been called an up-to-date reworking of the Oliver Twist story by Charles Dickens.

A boy named Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) lives in an orphanage but believes that his parents are alive. He believes that the music that he hears all around him (which others interpret as background noise) is his parents communicating with him. He meets a counselor, Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard), of the New York Child Services Department. Evan tells Jeffries that he does not want to be adopted because he believes his parents are still alive and will come to collect him eventually.

Through a series of flashbacks, his parents are revealed to be Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a famous concert cellist, and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Irish guitarist and lead singer of a rock band. Lyla and Louis spent one romantic night together and never saw each other again - they were forced to separate by Lyla's domineering father. Lyla became pregnant; her father did not approve because he wanted Lyla to have a successful career without the obstacle of a child. After an argument with her father, Lyla ran out of a restaurant and was hit by a car. While in the hospital, she gave birth to a son. Afterward, she was told by her father that her child had died, but he had been delivered successfully and then given up for adoption by her father, who forged Lyla's signature on the necessary paperwork.

Louis has never forgotten Lyla and does not know about Evan. Both have since given up performing; Lyla is a music teacher in Chicago, and Louis is an unhappy financial minion in San Francisco.

Evan believes deeply that as long as he follows the music he hears and reacts to it, he will have a chance to be found by his parents. He runs away from the state institution and makes his way to New York City, where he is taken in by a man known as "Wizard" (Robin Williams), who houses various orphans and runaways, employing them to play music on the streets and taking a large cut of their tips. Evan immediately proves to be a musical child prodigy. Wizard enlists him and gives him the name "August Rush", convincing him that he will be sent back to the orphanage if his real name is ever discovered...

This movie provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Wizard.
  • Artistic License Music: Electric guitars without amps, a so-so composition that gets him into Juilliard without the audition process, his sudden professional-grade skills at instruments and composition without any previous training. Generally the movie did not play well with musicians.
  • Band of Relatives: The Connelly Brothers
  • Child Prodigy: August, though as noted, solidly in Artistic License Music territory. (In Real Life, even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent a few years studying music theory before he wrote his first simple compositions, whereas August is apparently able to compose for full orchestra within a few hours of the first time he ever sees music notation. Uh-huh.)
  • Concert Climax
  • Contrived Coincidence: The resolution of the film is the result of coincidence upon coincidence piling together.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: This poster.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Early-Bird Cameo: If you pay attention, you might notice that the street musician playing the harmonica when Lewis and Lyla meet is probably Wizard (you don't see his face, but he has a similar cowboy hat and jacket, is holding a guitar, and plays a song on his harmonica that Wizard plays in a later scene).
  • Evil Redhead: Wizard.
  • The Fagin: Wizard again
  • Jerkass: The Wizard again.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: This kid just sort of... knows... music theory. To anyone who has actually studied music theory it's kind of insulting how this kid isn't taught anything, he just jumps straight into writing a symphony.
  • Lamarck Was Right: The title character is a musical prodigy whose parents were also talented musicians, although even Lamarck would probably say that the degree to which this movie takes it to is unrealistic.
  • Magic Realism: A pretty plausible reason for the movie's factual inaccuracies. Keri Russell described it as a fairytale.
  • Meaningful Echo: "11 years, (X) days. I counted." Also, August's Symphony echoes music from meaningful scenes throughout the movie.
  • Meddling Parents: Lyla's father forging adoption papers in order to keep Lyla on the path to success.
  • Missed Her By That Much: Louis trying to find Lyla the first time.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Well, Arthur's going to get beat or killed, most of the friends August made along the way are the same or worse than they were before he came along, but hey, kid found his parents.
  • Race for Your Love: Louis does this twice. He's far more successful the second time around.
  • Serendipitous Symphony: A lot.
  • Setting Update: On Oliver Twist. The most obvious parallel is "Wizard = Fagin."
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Lyla and Louis.
  • Title Drop: By Wizard.
  • Trailers Always Lie: If one only looked at the promotional footage, that person would think Wizard was The Mentor or the Cool Old Guy, but that's not true at all.