If you asked me to name three movies worth watching simply because of their beautiful cinematography, I'd say Pride and Prejudice (2005), Miss Potter, and August Rush.
Ever since close-captioning in theatres became advailable, I've been taking advantage of that accomodation and avoiding non-captioned showings. However, August Rush was at the cheap theatre, and all my friends were going, plus I really wanted to see it, so I went along for the ride. And I was very glad I did.
It helped that I had read reviews ahead of time and knew the plotline. This certainly wasn't a Pirates of the Caribbean or National Treasure where dialogue is crucial. No, the most important part of the movie were the visuals and the music. And the visuals of the music were amazing.
I'd say there were four things that really stuck out to me (And
this is the film student talking here).
#1- The blended images. By this I mean the shots of August's mom intercut with August's dad- both creating music but in differant locations. However, as another reviewer pointed out (either CT Today or Pluggedin) the sound and images were woven together as though both performers were really creating the same music.
#2- The colors. August's mom was usually shown wearing white, and against a warm colored background. August's dad was usually shown wearing black and against a cool colored background. Not exclusively, but certainly during the performances.
#3- the way the camera focused on the objects making the sounds. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but to a hard-of-hearing person, it was simply amazing to be able to completely understand what was being heard, by what was seen! August is hearing music in every day life, and since I have heard those kinds of everyday sounds, even if I couldn't quite distinguish them in the theatre, I know what they should have sounded like.
The fourth thing is really the reason why every musician should see this film. This film loves music. You can tell that the filmmakers really find a deep joy in creating and listening to music. The beautiful shots of the cello, the simple joy of hearing music in everyday objects, it's a celebration of music, even when the plot seems a bit implausible.
And, quite frankly, this movie does require a suspension of belief. If you don't settle into your seat fully prepared to believe what the filmmakers put in front of your, your skepticism could ruin the experience. But I'll say this- all film requires a suspension of belief. None of it is real. So it's not asking a lot to hold back a little on the comments when our young music prodigy learns how to read musical notes a tad too fast.
An added bonus is, of course, the film's connections to Oliver Twist. Fans of Dickens will enjoy spotting familiar characters and plot twists- most particularily Robin William's connections to Fagin.
My favorite thread, however, was the longing of a mother for her lost son. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older and more aware of that bond, but it seemed to be by far the most powerful part of the story.
Unfortunately, it is too closely connected to the one fly in this jam. While I would recommend this film to families, it should be noted that August's parent's are not married when he is concieved. However I think the film does a good job of portraying how this act causes years of pain and harship for all three main characters and is not a path to be emulated. (Note: nothing beyond a kiss and waking up together the next morning fully clothed is shown.)
All in all, it was an enjoyable film, celebrating both the importance of family ties and music, and combined with beautiful cinematography, is one I intend to buy and enjoy for years to come.