Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a famous cellist, wanders to the rooftop of a building to avoid the party she is attending alone. She wants a breath of fresh air. There she meets Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an Irish singer-songwriter who is listening to a street musician's rendition of "Moondance." Inexorably drawn to each other, Lyla and Louis create a musical composition with their eyes that leads to a meeting of their minds and bodies. They could be called soul mates for they share a love of music that is stronger than any words they speak. They spend the night together on the roof. In the morning, Lyla's father (William Sadler), who is orchestrating her career as a solo concert cellist, takes her away from the city, leaving Louis with a heartache that will not go away; he has no idea what has happened to her. A few months later, she has a further trauma, when her father leads her to believe she has lost her unborn child in a car accident.
Eleven years later, Evan (Freddie Highmore) has spent all his life in an orphanage. While others yearn to be adopted, he is convinced that his parents are alive and will appear to take him home with them. Evan is considered a "freak" since he hears music all around him — in the wind, the air, and the light. In another century, he would have described his experiences as listening to the music of the spheres. All the world's religions hallow this special means of communication. With music, we tend to forget ourselves, enabling us to tune in to the mysteries all around us. This is a very spiritual way of being.
After talking to a new social worker, Richard Jeffries (Terrence Howard), Evan decides it is time to begin his quest to locate his parents. While wandering around Manhattan, he is caught up by the everyday sounds of the metropolis. The music he hears does not go away but stays in his memory. When Evan comes upon Arthur (Leon Thomas III), a street musician, he is fascinated by his guitar. He follows him to an abandoned building where the Wizard (Robin Williams) serves as a surrogate father to a band of homeless and lost kids. Meeting Evan, the Wizard asks, "Do you know what music is?" and then adds, "A harmonic connection between all living beings." When he hears the newcomer play Arthur's guitar, the Wizard knows that he is in the presence of a musical prodigy. On the street, crowds pay good money to hear him play. But Evan is doing more than making music; he is sending out a cry to the parents he has never met.
Evan takes the name August Rush as a favor to his mentor Wizard. He goes on to other adventures in a church where a little African-American girl named Hope (Jamia Simone Nash) impresses him with her big voice and innovative way of playing the piano. When the black minister hears August playing the organ, he knows that he has a special gift of God, and so he takes him to Julliard where he is enrolled as child prodigy.
Kirsten Sheridan directs this wonderful movie, and we came away from it with a multidimensional appreciation for the enchantments of music. Since seeing the movie, we have become avid listeners to the rhythms of the city streets and the sounds made by subways, horns, drills, bells, and the trample of feet on the sidewalks. Remember the artist John Cage? No music ever played in his apartment. "Music?" he'd say when asked about this. He would smile, raise the window, allowing in the sound of traffic and the hugger-mugger of the streets, "That's all the music I need."
We are especially fond of the many scenes in the film where August gets in the groove and loses himself in the music. He reveals the deep pleasure of letting go and following the creative flow. August Rush makes it clear that people like Lyla and Louis can make beautiful music together for one night that can play in their hearts for years. The movie also teaches us that we all need mentors to cheer us on so that the magic of the music can lead us where it wants us to go. And, most importantly, August Rush reminds us that the yearning of the heart is the best music of all for that is how we reach out to each other and discover the love that binds us together.
Special DVD features include additional scenes.