August Rush

40. August Rush (2007) [Rated PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and language.]

summary from imdb.com:

A drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents.

directed by: Kirsten Sheridan

starring: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, William Sadler, Mykelti Williamson

Conservo-Libertarian Reviews:
James Bowman
Barbara Nicolosi
movieguide.org Christian reviews

A Trailer

Abortion/Life Content:

Freddie Highmore speaking about his parents: I know they’re out there somewhere. I don’t know where it comes from… but it’s what I hold on to. And I can’t let go. Somewhere inside me… I know that they always wanted me. Maybe they just got lost.

William Sadler: You know what I mean? I don’t know… how to approach this problem. I mean, where are you gonna put the baby? And what about this boy? He’s not here now. He’s not here now.

Doctor or Nurse: We have fetal distress. Baby’s heart rate is falling. It’s falling. I’m sorry. He’s gone.

[ultrasound shown]

voice on phone: This is a message for Lyla Novacek. Please call Good Samaritan Hospital. I’m calling about your father, Thomas Novacek.

William Sadler: I wasn’t sure you were going to come. My will is in the top drawer of the desk in my study.

Keri Russell: Dad, stop, come on.

William: Lyla, please. There’s more. All I ever wanted was for you to have all that promise, all that life. But you were so young. We had so much work to do. You weren’t ready.

Keri: That’s plenty, Dad. Really.

William: I mean, a baby. That baby, he could have hurt you. He could’ve hurt you, and I… I wasn’t gonna let that happen, Lyla. I made a choice for us.

[adoption papers shown on screen]

Keri: Oh, my G##.

William: A choice for us.

Keri: Wait…

[Keri’s signature is forged on the adoption papers by William Sadler]

William: I’m sorry.

Keri: Where? Where is he?

William: I didn’t mean…

Keri: Where is he?

William: I don’t know. I don’t.

Keri Russell: Please, I just… I wanna know his name.

Amy V. Dewhurst: To even consider re-establishing contact with a child, there is a detailed process.

Keri: I don’t care about your process! Okay?

Amy: Ma’am, we’re closed. Come back tomorrow.

Terrence Howard: Okay, well, maybe you can help me with this young man. Little boy that came up missing recently and his name is Evan Taylor. He’s about 12.

Robin Williams: And what if I find this Evan and I turn him over to you? What then? You don’t care about a kid after he’s in the system.

Terrence: It’s not like that…

Robin: Oh, I know exactly what it’s like. You don’t follow up. And you throw him from place to place. Eventually, you end up in a place where they kick the crap out of you. Go to bed at night and he tries to close his eyes, ears. Shut out the world. What happens to that kid? What do you think he hears? What do you think he hears? […] You forget about your parents! They were pretty quick to forget about you. You don’t know how it could be for you. You do not know how precious your gift is. You’re just a kid, you don’t know. I do, August.

Keri Russell: I know how this looks, you know. I’m not crazy.

Terrence Howard: Nobody thinks you’re crazy. What’s your name?

Keri: Lyla. Novacek.

Terrence: Well, it’s like the woman explained to you. You fill out a couple forms…

Keri: Six months, they said. I don’t have six months for forms.

Terrence: Then I can’t help you, then. Explain something to me now. Why now? Why not before? Why is it so important that you want him now?

Keri: I’ve always wanted him. I’ve waited 11 years, two months, and 15 days… to find out that he’s alive. I’ve been counting.

[…]

Terrence: And this isn’t your signature? You do realize that he’s probably already been placed with a family, correct?

Keri: Do you have children, Mr. Jeffries?

Terrence: Yeah, I did.

Keri: Then you know.

Terrence: What’s his birthday?

Keri: December 17th, 1995.

Terrence: Yeah, I know. Excuse me a minute. This is him.

Keri: Yeah.

=============================

from an article by Rick Santorum:

One of the most poignant recurring themes may be the message to baby-boom parents from their own children. The characters most often urging abortion on the expectant mother were aging boomers, and they are not attractive moments. In August Rush, Lyla’s father tells her that her baby was killed in an auto accident and gives the child to an orphanage – to protect her career.

from a review by Karen Edmisten:

In this contemporary, Dickensian tale, we first meet Evan at the orphanage where he has lived for “eleven years and 16 days.” He’s been counting. Music is sewn into the fiber of Evan’s being. It’s a gift from his parents, Lyla (a cellist) and Louis (an Irish rocker.) “Once upon a time, they fell in love,” Evan tells us. They did, and Evan (later redubbed “August Rush” by the Fagin-like Wizard with whom he goes to live) was the result of their one night together. Separated by circumstances and Lyla’s deceitful father, neither of them initially knows that Evan is out there somewhere (I don’t want to spoil the unfolding of the story for you with details, details) but they know, somehow, that they have to find each other. The power and magic of music is what will bring them back together. And Evan knows it.

Keri Russell is appropriately luminous as Lyla (and later, so convincingly desperate to find her son) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is appropriately tortured and dreamy as Louis. Freddie Highmore is just so perfectly cute that I could scoop him up from that orphanage and adopt him myself. Robin Williams is more than creepy and dangerous as Wizard.

My one little quibble (here’s the Catholic mom in me) is that I would have loved it if Lyla and Louis’s beginnings had been more classically a fairy tale. I would have had them secretly married (secretly, of course, because Lyla’s controlling father would never let his classical cellist marry a rocker. And, since we’re suspending all kinds of disbelief anyway, we could also suspend our disbelief that in the age of Google two people could remain separated for 11 years and 16 days without being able to track each other down) and then we could avoid explaining a one-night stand to children, so do take that into account if you’re considering this one for the family. Though this particular one-night stand was magically redeemed by True Love, there’s the problem of romanticizing what, in reality was a chance meeting of two people who didn’t know the first thing about each other. Fodder for good conversation with kids old enough to understand.

“A REAL Culture of Life Movie” by Barbara Nicolosi:

Go see August Rush. It is lovely.

The dialogue is a little lame at points, and the voice-over is over the top, and they have some draggy second act problems, but the story is so good, that you forgive them all of that. August Rush is a fresh, inspiring and spiritual story that leaves you believing that God is in the universe, that people are all basically searching for love, and that the best thing is to be a profound and kind person.

And it makes a compelling, powerful case for the personhood of the unborn child. In a flash, but it’s there. And then, there is the whole point of the film which is that parents and children are connected in a mysterious and spiritual way.

And there are wonderful performances here by Freddie Hightower and Keri Russell. And there are at least two absolutely great visual and paradoxical haunting moments!

This movie deserves the support and attentions of all the folks who have been falling at the feet of Bella as a “great pro-life film.” Too bad that latter mediocre film sucked all the oxygen out of the cultural room for Catholic, pro-life movies. Too bad August Rush doesn’t have the money-grubbing, brainwashed Church of Regnum Christology virally shoving it at everybody in the Church.

But really when you have a good film, you don’t need to deceive and blackmail people to get them into the theaters. August Rush has already lapped “THE #1 GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME!!!!” at the box-office twice over and is holding fourth place. In the end, the truth will out.

Go see August Rush! It will make you glad. And maybe more.

from movieguide.org:

AUGUST RUSH is an inspiring movie about a gifted boy who believes he can find his parents through music. It opens with a young beautiful concert cellist (Keri Russell) having a one-night fling with a guitar playing lead singer in an Irish band. The cellist gets pregnant but when the baby is born early due to a car accident, her domineering father forges adoption papers and tells his daughter the child died.

The young boy is raised in an orphanage where he is considered a nut because he hears sounds as music and believes this gift will help him find his parents. The boy winds up in New York City where his amazing musical gift results in his being “adopted” and renamed August Rush by a musical talent pimp known as the Wizard, a character straight out of Charles Dickens’ OLIVER TWIST. The Wizard, played by Robin Williams, posts talented children around town playing instruments for donations which must be brought back to “the family.” Williams’ role is both sympathetic and sinister. He does “rescue” and feed children, but he treats them like property.

A police raid on the family’s “home” results in August winding up in a church where he makes friends with a young black singer and demonstrates his God-given gift on the church organ. His musical ability is called a miraculous gift. The pastor does what he can to help August and prays that he will find his parents. Like a classic old novel, the Wizard comes back into the plot again to make life difficult for August.

In 2007, it’s a rare movie that sends audiences home happy and inspired. AUGUST RUSH not only leaves you wanting to cheer, but also leaves you wanting to soak in every sound in your environment and write music. Granted, God doesn’t give everyone the gift to be able to write great music. That’s probably a good thing. It’s good to be able to share your talents, and it’s wonderful to see or hear the work of someone as gifted as Mozart or Beethoven.

AUGUST RUSH is to be commended for glorifying good music as a talent given by God, but the Robin Williams character, while recognizing the gift, attributes it to the universe. Furthermore, while the movie clearly presents the church and its pastor in a positive light, it does open with the one-night stand (nothing graphic) that results in the birth of a child. God does not condone sex outside of marriage, but the movie shows that He loves both the parents and the children and wants to redeem the lives of those who make mistakes, which includes all of us.

Production values in AUGUST RUSH are excellent and the language remarkably clean for a movie focusing on inner city life. The movie proves you can make a highly entertaining movie in downtown New York without loading it with foul language. We cannot imagine a single ticket purchaser who went home wishing they could have heard the “f” word a few dozen times.

from consumed blog:

The film, as noted, also shows a powerful belief in the family, and perhaps unintentionally, the nuclear family (dad, mom, child). This is a great insight as well. Though the family is also not ultimately transcendent, as August Rush might lead us to think, we may say that the family is perhaps God’s greatest earthly gift to us. It is simply impossible to enumerate the ways in which we are blessed on a daily, even hourly, basis by our families, even if they are not families of considerable health. Just having a family is immensely meaningful. The support that one has in being part of a family is not often consciously thought of but is precious beyond quantification. The film knows this, and shows us what it means for people to live without the structures of family–and most clearly to live without parents as an abandoned boy. One can have talent, and beauty, and joy, but without a family, one is ultimately unhappy. We Christians would of course go beyond this to say that God alone is our greatest need, that it is our most urgent necessity to enter into not an earthly family but a spiritual family that transcends this earth. On an earthly level, though, it is clear that God has structured the family to be the central part of our earthly existence. He has done so, I would argue, to show us something of the taste of familial perfection as expressed in the Trinity, the union of Father, Son, and Spirit, of which our families are but a type and shadow.

August Rush seeks true transcendence and fails to find it. But we may commend it for its pursuit and enjoy for its depiction of two of the choicest gifts God has given humanity: music and family. This movie shows us for the hundredth time that the people around us are not living atomistic lives, at least not all of the time. No, they are looking for something; something greater, something higher, something unified, something beautiful. Though they may discover numerous gifts of common grace in their search, we know that until they find the Christ, the salvation-giver, this search will prove fruitless in the end. We must be around them, then, to tell them where transcendence, and joy, and true hope may be found. It is not in music, but the One who created music; not in the family, but in the One who created the family; it is not found in the gift, but only in the Giver.

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