August Rush

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August Rush
August rush poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Kirsten Sheridan
Produced by Richard Barton Lewis
Written by Nick Castle
James V. Hart
Paul Castro
Starring Freddie Highmore
Keri Russell
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
with Terrence Howard
and Robin Williams
William Sadler
Alex O'Loughlin
Leon Thomas III
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography John Mathieson
Edited by William Steinkamp
Southpaw Entertainment
CJ Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • November 21, 2007 (2007-11-21)
Running time
113 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $65.3 million

August Rush is a 2007 drama film directed by Kirsten Sheridan and written by Nick Castle, James V. Hart, and Paul Castro, and produced by Richard Barton Lewis.

Deciding to run away to New York City, musical prodigy Evan Taylor begins to unravel the mystery of who he is, all while Evan's mother is searching for him while his father is searching for her.


In 1995, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) is a cellist living under strict rule of her father (William Sadler). Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is the lead singer of "The Connelly Brothers", an Irish rock band. Lyla and Louis meet and sleep together. The day after, they separate in a hurry, and are unable to maintain contact as Lyla leaves for Chicago. Lyla realizes she is pregnant. After an argument with her father, she is struck by a car. Due to the accident trauma, she gives birth prematurely, and her father secretly puts her son up for adoption, allowing her to believe that the baby died.

Eleven years later, Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) is living in a boys' orphanage outside New York City, where he meets Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard), a social worker. Evan has the savant-like ability to hear music wherever he is. 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 (Leon Thomas III) performing in Washington Square Park.

Louis lives in San Francisco, having left his band, while Lyla gave up performing and lives in Chicago. She is called to her father's deathbed and he admits that her child survived and is alive in New York. Lyla decides to abandon her father to his fate and moves to New York. Evan follows Arthur to his home in a condemned theater and is taken in by Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace (Robin Williams), a vagrant musician who teaches homeless children music and employs them as street performers. Evan tries playing Wizard's prize guitar and is so good that Wizard gives him the guitar and his old spot in Washington Square Park. He gives Evan the stage name "August Rush" and tries to market him to clubs. Seeing the posters that Jeffries has posted for the runaway Evan, Wizard destroys all the ones he finds, hoping to keep Evan and his gift for his own gain.

Louis decides to reconnect with Lyla and flies to Chicago to find her. Due to a misunderstanding, he ends up in New York, where he gets his band back together. The derelict theatre Wizard and his "children" are living in is raided by the police. After evading them, Evan (now "August") takes refuge in a church where a young girl, Hope (Jamia Simone Nash), introduces him to the piano and written music. He picks up this skill so quickly that Hope gets the attention of the parish pastor (Mykelti Williamson), who enrolls August at the Juilliard School. A rhapsody takes shape from August's notes and homework.

In New York, Lyla goes to Jeffries' office and Jeffries identifies Evan as her son. 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's been composing at the same concert. Wizard intrudes during a rehearsal and, claiming to be his father, pulls August out of the school threatening August to tell the authorities about his true identity. On the day of the outdoor concert, August is forbidden by Wizard to attend. August meets Louis in the park, not knowing Louis was his father and tells him of his dilemma and Louis encourages him to go. August leaves Wizard with help from Arthur, who also rebels, and flees to the concert.

Jeffries identifies August as Evan and heads for the concert. August arrives in time to conduct his rhapsody. Louis also arrives and reunites with Lyla, realizing she was playing at the concert. August finishes his rhapsody and as he turns to discover his parents, smiles knowing that he was always right about knowing they loved him and gratified that his faith in fate has proven itself.




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."[1] 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."[2] The score was recorded at the Todd-AO Scoring Stage and the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers.[3]


August Rush received mixed to negative reviews from film critics,[4][5] although it has earned mostly positive reception from the general public.[6] On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 37% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 110 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Though featuring a talented cast, August Rush cannot overcome the flimsy direction and schmaltzy plot."[4] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 38 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally negative reviews".[5]

In a review by USA Today, Claudia Puig commented that "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."[7] 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."[8]

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."[9] 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."[10]

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."[11]

Jamila Gavin compared the film to Dickens' Oliver Twist and Coram Boy.[12][13]

Shawn Johnson used Bari Improv and August's Rhapsody for her floor exercise music in 2008, notably featured at the Beijing Olympics.


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 adaption[edit]

It was announced in November, 2014 that Mark Mancina and Glen Berger were bringing the film to Broadway.[14]


  1. ^ Crisafulli, Chuck and Graff, Gary. "And The Best Original Song Oscar Nominees Are...". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  2. ^ Crisafulli, Chuck. "After a year and a half, the 'August' pieces fit". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ Dan Goldwasser. "Scoring Session Photo Gallery from August Rush". Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  4. ^ a b "August Rush — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  5. ^ a b "August Rush (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  6. ^ August Rush on Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Puig, Claudia (2007-11-23). "Lilting 'August Rush' is poetry in emotion". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  8. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (November 8, 2007). "August Rush". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "August Rush - Review Comments". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  11. ^ Roger Ebert (2007-11-21). "August Rush". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  12. ^ Smith, Sid (2007-11-21). "August Rush (Oliver Twist reset in N.Y.) — 2 stars". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. 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. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^

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