August Rush, Kirsten Sheridan’s directorial debut, is a modern-day fairy tale – a thoughtful, unabashedly sentimental and (at times) melodramatic contrivance that only the most hard-hearted cynic could turn away from.
Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) plays Evan, an orphan with a gift for creating music based on the confluence of sounds he hears around him. He is convinced his parents – an Irish guitarist (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and a concert cellist (Keri Russell) – are still alive and could find him if they could only hear his music. He runs from the orphanage he grows up in, pursued by a kind case worker (Terrence Howard) and comes to New York City, only to be scooped up by the Wizard (Robin Williams), an exploitation artist who runs an unofficial home for young street performers in an abandoned theater. Renamed “August Rush,” Evan takes to the streets, hoping to some day make the music that will draw his parents to him.
This owes way more than a bit to Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, with Williams playing the Fagin-role and August the proverbial Oliver, but there are some differences. Nevertheless, this is a well-made and just plain nice film from the daughter of the great Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan.