‘August Rush’ film plucks at heartstrings

Associated Press

Regardless of how many ways it’s remolded and pitched, the story of a forgotten orphan can always reach out and pluck a few heartstrings. “August Rush” is no exception to the rule, even if the formula is a little unconventional.

Directed by Kirsten Sheridan, “August Rush” follows the story of randomly interconnected strangers all working toward reuniting a family that wasn’t aware it existed.

Famous cellist, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), and struggling Irish guitarist, Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), meet one night in New York City, in a twist of fate that has them forsaking their dreams upon separation.

Their night together results in a son named August Rush (Freddie Highmore) who is hidden away by Novacek’s father. He grows up to be a unique individual, finding music in the mundane sounds of everyday life, never giving up his belief that music is the way to his parents.

Alone in the Big Apple, Rush encounters strangers from all walks of life; some are helpful where others are hurtful, but they all serve a purpose in his quest for a family. Fate eventually intervenes again, bringing father, mother and son together in a twist that only the romantic can see coming.

Highmore, who plays the part exquisitely, is still considered a relative newcomer even after the success of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Finding Neverland.” His performance in “August Rush” shows just why he’s been cast so much at such an early age. Every emotion, every flicker of experience that lands upon August’s shoulders is clearly painted on Highmore’s young face.

He even outshines his veteran co-stars, which is quite the feat considering both Russell (perhaps best known for her role as Felicity Porter in the television series “Felicity”) and Meyers (who plays King Henry VIII in the Showtime series “The Tudors”) give the performances of their careers. Russell infuses Lyla with such an amazing heart that the audience can’t help but feel for her as her love for this unknown child grows.

Meyers’ Louis gives up his plush life and returns to the one he walked away from on a whim, hoping he might someday meet Lyla once again. His wonder at the things he’s lost and those he’s rediscovering is remarkably real. In one go, Meyers redefines the “Sensitive Guy.”

It’s fitting that “August Rush” should be released in the middle of a season that is all about surrounding yourself with loved ones. The message speaks for itself. There’s nothing to dig through: like the characters in the film, “August Rush” wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a heart the whole family should see.