Friday, December 11, 2009

Must-Watch Friday: August Rush

Today, Kate Hardy talks about one of the best films she's seen this year!

Given that I’m a music junkie and our house contains quite a few guitars and a piano, it’s hardly surprising that the film I’ve chosen this week has music as a really strong element to the plot - August Rush.

Not quite sure if it counts as a romance (though I would argue it’s a ‘one night, one baby’ story, to borrow one of my own book titles, and it’s definitely a reunion story). But warm and fuzzies… I’d give it 10.

Young Evan is in an orphanage (‘eleven years and sixteen days. I've been counting’), but believes his parents are still alive and will come to find him – or he will find them, through his music. ‘The music. I thought if I could play it, they would know I was alive. And find me.’ He hears music in everything (‘Listen... can you hear it? The music...’), and his self-belief is amazing. I had a huge lump in my throat and I knew from the scene where he hears music in a cornfield that this was going to be special.

There are two stories intercut with Evan’s search for his parents. Louis Connelly, an Irish guitarist, can’t forget the girl he fell in love with (and was parted from her by an interfering father) and has given up playing in his band. Lyla Novacek, a cellist who trained at the Julliard, had a one-night whirlwind affair with a guitarist, thought he’d left her and discovered she was pregnant. She believed that her baby died at birth and refuses to play the cello any more – instead, she teaches music to kids. But she’s never forgotten the man she fell in love with.

Evan ends up lost on the streets of New York and is taken in hand by a Fagin-style character (played brilliantly by Robin Williams), who has a gang of kids who are street musicians. They discover he’s a musical prodigy (guitar – and then, when he runs away and is taken in by a minister, the organ), and he ends up training at the Julliard.

Evan ends up playing improve in the street with an Irish guitarist (and this persuades the guitarist to go back to his band). He also ends up writing a piece of music that’s performed at a huge music festival – which stars a certain cellist who’s discovered that her baby lived, and she’s trying to find him and also feeling her way back to music. (‘I know it sounds crazy, but I can hear him! I swear I can hear him!’ – oh, absolutely.)

The ending wasn’t spelled out, but you’re left with the conviction that Lyla, Louis and Evan will be a family and it will work.

The music is great – deservedly nominated for an Oscar. The guitar improv is stunning and had both my daughter and me itching to pick up our guitars. (Oh, and there’s this little theme all the way through it – a song that I used for ‘Breakfast at Giovanni’s’ – took me the whole film to work it out, mind! It ties everything together, right from Lyle and Louis’s first meeting through to Evan’s orchestral piece and the last, understated bit of the film.)

Freddie Highmore is excellent as Evan (and deservedly won the Saturn award for best younger actor); and Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell were super as Louis and Lyle; and I have to admit that Robin Williams almost stole the film for me. (OK, I admit, I had a crush on him back in the Mork and Mindy days… when I was all of 12!)

Highly recommended.

In the UK, Kate’s new book is out now – Falling for the Playboy Millionaire. Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress is on the shelves in Australia and the US. And Kate is currently like a dog with two tails because Romantic Times has shortlisted her book Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh in the category of Best Presents 2010 (thank you very, very much to the reviewers for choosing it). You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (


  1. Enjoyed this film too Kate, although have no idea of the music theme you're talking about... Could this have something to do with the fact I'm tone deaf...

    But can I just add... You had a crush on Robin Williams in his multi-coloured braces as Mork! What a shocker.

  2. I don't know this film but I LOVE Jonathon Rhys Myers. Something else to buy and watch over Christmas.
    Congratulations on your RT nomination Kate - so well deserved. Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh was fantastic :-)

  3. Heidi - Van Morrison's "Moondance" - they slow it right down (RW plays it on the harmonica), and then use it as part of the orchestral theme that "August Rush" composes.

    And hey, yeah. It was the blue eyes and the smile that did it for me. (Had an even bigger crush on him after Dead Poets' Society and The Fisher King...)

  4. Sarah, it's really good. And thank you - congrats to you, too, on your RT nomination for Powerful Greek, Unworldly Wife :o)

  5. I loved that film! Had to buy the soundtrack as soon as I got home that night. Hm, could watch it again...

  6. Carolin - wasn't it fantastic? Not surprising it got an Oscar nom for the soundtrack :o)

  7. Kate, This sounds like a fantastic watch! I remember seeing a preview and wondering if it would be as good as it looked--glad to hear it was!

  8. Mira, it really was - DH wasn't sure because it was in the bargain section in the supermarket, but I thought it sounded like something we'd all enjoy. So if you can get hold of a copy, I think you'd like it, too. (Set off loads of lightbulbs. Especially Robin Williams' character.)