Oliver Twist with a dash of Beethoven. This movie is incredibly sweet – a love story about music and the connections we make to people and the universe through it.
Freddie Highmore is absolutely brilliant! Although with his recent success, I reflect briefly on the problems that child actors find in their futures: Bobby Driscoll (child Disney star/voice of Peter Pan overdosed on drugs), Macaulay Culkin seems to have adjusted but what has he done since Saved!, and where is Haley Joel Osmont?
The music is absolutely gorgeous…brilliant combinations of classical and rock inflections. AND! Keri Russel (mother), Jonathon Rhys Mayer (father) and Freddie Highmore (prodigal son) all play their own instruments (the credits list their tutors and they are credited on the soundtrack). It makes me so happy to see a movie that is so much about the music is organically created/represented by the actors…(clarification – the tutors taught them how to look like they were playing the music perfectly – Freddie Highmore and Keri Russel are not listed on the soundtrack and Johnathan Rhys Mayer is only credited on songs that he sings…but I was still very much impressed with their performances).
AND! It was filmed in New York/New Jersey instead of in Canada.
Also features an excellent performance by Robin Williams in the role of Fagin/Bill Sykes who takes Evan (Highmore) in, gives him the musical name August Rush and teaches him everything he knows about music.
The one thing I will complain about the movie is the ending. I wanted a hug because the dialogue for the ending just seems too cheesy…(the music is all around us…all you have to do is listen). I think it particularly bothered me because Disney practically says the same thing (the magic is all around us…all you have to do is believe)…but the movie was incredible enough that I can overlook it. And maybe a hug is too cheesy for the rest of the world…I don’t know.