Talking Movies

November 27, 2019

From the Archives: August Rush

Filed under: Talking Movies (Reviews) — Fergal Casey @ 5:25 pm

From the pre-Talking Movies archives.

Classical cellist Lyla and rock singer Lewis only meet each other for one night but it produces a son August Rush who, unbeknownst to either, survives childbirth. He escapes the orphanage and heads to New York to find his parents.

Where to begin the evisceration? A musical with no musical numbers worth speaking of, there’s a start. Across the Universe, flawed as it was, featured a cast breaking into Beatles songs at the drop of a hat. Here the most tuneful thing we get is Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’, after that it’s just occasional bad rock songs whined by Rhys Meyers in clubs and annoying guitar slapping by Freddie Highmore supposedly showing off what a prodigy he is. The characters are all simpletons. I’m not sure if that’s an actual conscious intent, they are after all spouting some of the most cringe-inducing dialogue since the Star Wars prequels so it could just be the actors’ brains going into lockdown, refusing to believe such writing is possible. The early scenes between Lyla and Lewis have to be groaned through to be believed.

The film picks up somewhat when ‘orphan’ Evan arrives in New York but even that is unintentionally hilarious. He stands swaying to the ambient noise of the city and it’s meant to be fearfully emotive of his special gift for hearing the music in nature, which will allow him locate his parents. Unfortunately it is more reminiscent of the Irish character Tyres in Simon Pegg’s TV show Spaced who could groove along to a beat made out of the noise of a traffic light and a beeping motorist. There is literally no end to the annoying elements of this film. August (as Evan is quickly renamed) always slaps the guitar, never strumming, while in Juilliard his curriculum is so basic for the age group depicted as to cast doubt on its reputation…

When August falls in with a group of musical urchins it feels like the credits should read ‘Story by Charles Dickens’ as it’s pure Oliver Twist meeting the Artful Dodger, with Robin Williams’ role halfway between Fagin and Bono. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is pretty but can he act? The rest of the cast can’t, except Terrence Howard and Williams who in some scenes look like they’ve gone to the bother of inventing a back-story for their characters. The screenwriters never bothered so kudos for personal initiative. Too bad we’re left assuming motivations though…especially as you know they’re probably operating several levels of intelligence above the script. There is an hour of story here, it’s dragged out for two and feels like three. The boredom becomes so acute that when Becki Newton appears you will scream, “Hey it’s Amanda from Ugly Betty! What, no! Don’t leave after one scene, come back and say something cutting, surely there’s someone with a cold sore you could go make fun of”. This atrocity gets a star purely because Rhys Meyers looks like he’s having fun showing off his cheekbones again…

1/5

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