If they had only told me Keri Russell was in it, I would have tried harder. She’s one of the most underrated movie actresses (as I’ve written before on this blog) around today. If she had been around back in the 1940s and ‘50s the studios would have known how to put her potent combination of beauty and acting chops to good use, giving a run to Grace Kelly and other ethereal beauties who can also emote on screen—but Russell would have beat them all.
As it is, AUGUST RUSH is one of the hokiest movies ever made, with an almost embarrassingly implausible plot, predictably and conveniently tied up like a bow—
—and yet—AND YET— it totally works. Partly because of the great acting by Russell and the child star of the flick, Freddie Highmore, as well as Terence Howard in a supporting role, which renders insignificant the miscast Robin Williams and the unpredictable Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.
Russell manages to make almost every film she’s ever been in better than it could ever have been without her, and this one is no exception. The combination of the music, the editing, and her beauty and acting, along with Highmore and Howard, and at least an adequately emo performance by Meyers, and yes, the hokey story that somehow transcends the hoke to become deeply truthful in ways simple realism often can’t, ends up making this one of the most emotionally satisfying movie experiences I’ve had.
Sure, I’m a sap for old fashioned sentiment, especially the kind generated by stories about overcoming the odds to reach your goal no matter how far fetched. But there’s a deeper truth to this story, as anyone who has been moved to tears by a Gospel chorus, or an exceptional performance at a classical music concert, or just the sound of an old favorite tune coming through the window on the first day of Spring, knows, that kind of sentiment ain’t cheap. It’s well earned.
And AUGUST RUSH earns it.