August Rush

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August Rush
August rush poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKirsten Sheridan
Screenplay byNick Castle
James V. Hart
Story byPaul Castro
Nick Castle
Produced byRichard Barton Lewis
StarringFreddie Highmore
Keri Russell
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Terrence Howard
Robin Williams
William Sadler
CinematographyJohn Mathieson
Edited byWilliam Steinkamp
Music byMark Mancina
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures (North America)
Odyssey Entertainment (International)[1]
Release date
  • November 21, 2007 (2007-11-21)
Running time
114 minutes
CountriesUnited States
South Korea
Budget$25 million
Box office$65.3 million

August Rush is a 2007 musical drama film directed by Kirsten Sheridan and produced by Richard Barton Lewis. The screenplay is by Nick Castle and James V. Hart, with a story by Paul Castro and Castle. It involves an 11-year-old musical prodigy living in an orphanage who runs away to New York City. He begins to unravel the mystery of who he is, all while his mother is searching for him and his father is searching for her. The many different sounds and rhythms he hears throughout his journey culminate in a major instrumental composition, which concludes the film ("August's Rhapsody").


In 1995, Lyla Novacek is a cellist studying at the Juilliard School and living under the strict rule of her father. Louis Connelly is the lead singer of an Irish rock band. They meet and have a one-night stand, but are unable to maintain contact. Lyla discovers that she is pregnant. Following an argument with her overbearing father over her unborn baby, she is struck by a car, forcing her to give birth prematurely. While Lyla is unconscious, her father secretly puts the baby boy up for adoption, telling Lyla that her son died.

Eleven years later, the baby is living in a boys' orphanage under the name Evan Taylor, where he is assigned to a social worker named Richard Jeffries. Evan is a musical genius and displays savant-like abilities and perfect pitch, which often causes him to be bullied. Convinced that his parents will find him, Evan runs away to New York City, "following the music" in the hope it will lead him to his family. He finds a boy named Arthur busking in Washington Square Park and follows Arthur to his home in a condemned theatre, where Evan is introduced to “Wizard” Wallace, an arrogant and aggressive vagrant and musician who teaches homeless, orphaned, and runaway children to be street performers. Evan tries playing Wizard's prize guitar, Roxanne (a Gibson J150ec). Evan is so good that Wizard gives him his old spot in Washington Square Park, along with the guitar, which was also Arthur's. He gives Evan the stage name "August Rush" and tries to market him to clubs. Seeing the posters that Jeffries has placed for the runaway Evan, Wizard destroys all the ones he finds, hoping to keep Evan for his own gain.

Louis now lives in San Francisco as a talent agent, while Lyla is a music teacher in Chicago. Louis reconnects with his brothers and decides to try to find Lyla. Lyla is called to her father's deathbed, where he confesses that her son is alive, causing Lyla to abandon her dying father and immediately start looking for her son.

On arriving at Lyla's apartment in Chicago, Louis talks to one of her neighbors, who mistakenly tells Louis she is on her honeymoon. Despairing, he ends up in New York, where he gets his band back together. After Jeffries meets Wizard and Arthur on the street and becomes suspicious, the police raid the derelict theatre in which Wizard and his "children" are living. Evan manages to evade the police and remembers Wizard's advice to never reveal his real name to anyone. Evan (now "August") takes refuge in a church, where he befriends a little girl named Hope, who introduces him to the piano and written music. Hope brings August and his abilities to the attention of the parish pastor, who takes August to Juilliard, where he once again impresses the faculty. A rhapsody takes shape from August's notes and homework.

In New York, Lyla goes to Jeffries' office, and Jeffries identifies Evan/August as her son. While looking for him, she takes up the cello again and accepts an offer to perform with the Philharmonic at a series of concerts in Central Park. August is selected to perform the rhapsody he has been composing at the same concert. However, Wizard interrupts the rehearsal and, claiming to be his father, manages to pull August out of the school.

On the day of the concert, August is back in his spot in Washington Square, while Wizard makes plans to smuggle him around the country to play. He meets Louis, and unaware of their blood relationship, they have an impromptu guitar duet. August tells him of his dilemma, and Louis encourages him to go. That evening, with help from Arthur, August escapes from Wizard through the subway and heads for his concert. Louis, after his own performance with his reunited band, sees Lyla's name on one of the banners and also heads for the park. Jeffries finds a misplaced flyer for "August Rush" with a picture, and also heads for the concert.

August arrives in time to conduct his rhapsody, which attracts both Lyla and Louis to the audience, where they are reunited. August finishes his rhapsody and as he turns to discover his parents, he smiles knowing that he has been right all along.



The final number with Lyla and Louis begins with Lyla playing the Adagio-Moderato from Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor.

Except for "Dueling Guitars", all of August's guitar pieces were played by American guitarist-composer Kaki King. King's hands are used in close-ups for August Rush.

Composer Mark Mancina spent over a year and a half composing the score of August Rush. "The heart of the story is how we respond and connect through music. It's about this young boy who believes that he's going to find his parents through his music. That's what drives him."[5] The final theme of the movie was composed first. "That way I could take bits and pieces of the ending piece and relate it to the things that are happening in (August's) life. All of the themes are pieces of the puzzle, so at the end it means something because you've been subliminally hearing it throughout the film."[6] The score was recorded at the Todd-AO Scoring Stage and the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros.[7]


August Rush received mixed reviews from film critics.[8][9] As of June 2020, the film holds a 37% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 123 reviews with an average rating of 4.83/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though featuring a talented cast, August Rush cannot overcome the flimsy direction and schmaltzy plot."[8] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 38 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9]

In a review by USA Today, Claudia Puig commented, "August Rush will not be for everyone, but it works if you surrender to its lilting and unabashedly sentimental tale of evocative music and visual poetry."[10] The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film positively, writing "the story is about musicians and how music connects people, so the movie's score and songs, created by composers Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer, give poetic whimsy to an implausible tale."[11]

Pam Grady of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "an inane musical melodrama." Grady said "the entire story is ridiculous" and "Coincidences pile on, behavior and motivations defy logic, and the characters are so thinly drawn that most of the cast is at a loss."[12] Edward Douglas of said it "does not take long for the movie to reveal itself as an extremely contrived and predictable movie that tries too hard to tug on the heartstrings."[13]

Roger Ebert gave the movie three stars, calling it "a movie drenched in sentimentality, but it's supposed to be. The movie also came to a very sudden end, leaving it unfinished."[14]

A few critics suggested that the film is essentially a musical adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist.[15][16]


Despite the mixed reception, August Rush was praised for its music. The song "Raise It Up" was nominated for Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards, but lost to Once.

Stage adaptation[edit]

A musical theatre adaptation of August Rush premiered on May 3, 2019, at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois. The book was written by Glen Berger, the music was composed by Mark Mancina, and the lyrics were written by both Berger and Mancina. The play was directed by John Doyle.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ Marshall, Lee (21 October 2007). "August Rush". Screen Daily. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b Garcia, Cathy Rose (16 January 2008). "Augusts Success in Korea Surprises US Producer". South Korea: The Korea Times. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ Tablo [@blobyblo] (15 November 2019). "My hobby of popping up in the most random places continues.
    First, I appeared as a 9 yr old boy in a hollywood film called August Rush.
    Then, my artwork appeared in a Justin Bieber video.
    And now, I'm seated amongst Star Wars / Marvel experts theorizing about Yoda. 🤣"
    (Tweet). Retrieved 30 November 2020 – via Twitter.
    {{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ 김, 민지 (15 November 2020). 할리우드 명작 ‘어거스트 러쉬’에 ‘3초 출연’ 했었던 ‘전참시’ 구혜선 (영상). 인사이트 (in Korean). South Korea: 뉴스1코리아. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  5. ^ Crisafulli, Chuck & Graff, Gary. "And The Best Original Song Oscar Nominees Are..." Billboard. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  6. ^ Crisafulli, Chuck. "After a year and a half, the 'August' pieces fit". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  7. ^ Dan Goldwasser. "Scoring Session Photo Gallery from August Rush". Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  8. ^ a b "August Rush — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "August Rush (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  10. ^ Puig, Claudia (2007-11-23). "Lilting 'August Rush' is poetry in emotion". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  11. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (November 8, 2007). "August Rush". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  12. ^ Pam Grady (2007-11-21). "Review: Orphan has a song in his heart in 'August Rush'". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  13. ^ "August Rush - Review Comments". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  14. ^ Roger Ebert (2007-11-21). "August Rush". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  15. ^ Smith, Sid (2007-11-21). "August Rush (Oliver Twist reset in N.Y.) — 2 stars". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2007-12-15. Turn to the master, Charles Dickens, or better yet, update and recycle him. Such must have been the thinking behind August Rush, a thinly disguised retelling of Oliver Twist, transplanted to contemporary New York and sweetened by a theme of the healing magic of music.
  16. ^ Covert, Colin (2007-11-20). "Movie review: Romanticism trumps reason in Rush". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-15. If Charles Dickens were alive today, he might be writing projects like August Rush, the unabashedly sentimental tale of a plucky orphan lad who falls in with streetwise urchins as he seeks the family he ought to have. Come to think of it, Dickens did write that one, and called it Oliver Twist.
  17. ^ Jones, Chris (May 1, 2019). "August Rush Is a New Broadway-Bound Musical – First at the Paramount in Aurora". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  18. ^ Mielke, Randall G. (April 8, 2019). "August Rush, Paramount's First World Premiere Broadway Series Show, to Open April 24". Aurora Beacon-News. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  19. ^ Vitello, Barbara (April 21, 2019). "Acclaimed Director Helms August Rush Premiere at Aurora's Paramount". Daily Herald. Retrieved May 4, 2019.

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