Freddie Highmore could be the current hot property as far as male child actors go, and Singapore has lined up two of his movies this week, with The Spiderwick Chronicles for the kiddie audience, and the more mature drama August Rush, which I thought was almost an Oliver Twist with music inclinations.
Highmore plays titular character August Rush, a stage name he and rogue guardian Wizard (a menacing Robin Williams) conjured when the latter realizes the music genius in the young boy who could be his ticket to instant riches. However, for August, his escape from the orphanage is to seek out his true biological parents, whom he believes earnestly is alive, and had to abandon him because of circumstances. Keri Russell plays cellist Lyla Novacek and Jonathan Rhys Meyers an indie rock star Louis Connelly, which more or less explains their offspring as a musical prodigy, able to pick up the essence of various sounds to distill the music in them, and could learn to play instruments by observation and by ear.
The story is told in two tracks, both of which will probably wring at your heart for the many missed chances and opportunities that would have made this a short film. But of course sentimental cruelty rules the day and everyone's kept apart for the most parts, while allowing you to jump with joy each time you are presented moments where the key leads get to interact with one another. The first track which is August Rush centric, as mentioned, is Oliver Twist, plain simple and obvious. Freddie Highmore alone is charismatic enough to hook, line and sinker your attention as he goes about his heartwarming quest to locate his folks, while at the same time his vulnerability allows him to be exploited since he's quite condescending.
The second part of the story I thought was the more touching part, with two lovers not being granted the opportunity to spend more than 1 night together, and must separate because of parental insistance that "it's for your own good", though probably the cynic in us could have said, it's the age of technology, and obviously Louis could have every chance to track her down, but just didn't. Well, that leaves room for the story to be told the way it is, doesn't it, and it's quite the standard romantic affair of having love lost, and love found. That one bit with Louis hesitating, I can jolly well identify with, as with the channelling of his energies to his more creative pursuits although still leaving room for some lamenting.
August Rush boasts and excellent soundtrack, some of which merged classical and rock ballads in an almost seemingly perfect fusion, which I can't help but to admire and were a real treat to sit through. Given a choice between the two Freddie Highmore movies, this one gets my vote of recommendation, hands down!