Freddie Highmore’s Opus

Tonight my friend Heather and I watched August Rush. I’ve had it in my queue for a while and had planned to see it, knowing it was a cheesefest but that it had some Oscar-nominated music so I wanted to check it out. I swear, this thing shoved me right out of my Myers-Briggs T zone and I think I might now permanently be an F. It would be interesting to see how test results differed if people took the MBTI while looking at Freddie Highmore’s face.

If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know what happens, then stop reading. I’m not going to do a full review here because I didn’t expect it to be a high quality film and it wasn’t. I just have a couple of things, beginning with young Freddie. I cannot express to you how much I love this kid. I swear, I look at him and I just start crying. He is so sweet and adorable and how anyone could abandon any child let alone him is beyond me. His character is a supposed orphan living in a group home but he hangs on to the belief that his parents are alive and will come for him. He knows this because he can hear them calling to him in the “music” he hears in the world around him. He’s one of those true prodigies born with a gift but in his context he had no way to work it out until he ran away to the big city where he is snatched up by a disturbed Robin Williams.

Robin Williams is always disturbed but this is more actually disturbed, not Robin Williams disturbed. He finds homeless or foster children with some musical ability, takes them in and sends them out to play on street corners and then collects the money. He clearly has a drug problem and is emotionally and psychologically manipulative. He does have enough sense to recognize the talent in Evan (Freddie) so he decides to create a persona for him and put him on the most profitable corner. During the conversation when they’re creating this identity Robin asks him what he wants to be in the whole world. His simple answer: found.

That pretty much sent me over the edge and I was done for the rest of the movie. Anything with children who are abandoned or abused already just puts my soul through a cheese grater but his frank vulnerability in the face of such hopelessness was more than I could take. In this nearly throwaway moment young Freddie Highmore gave voice to one of the deepest human needs of people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone wants to be found in some way – to be sought out, waited for and cherished. As a child, Evan wasn’t afraid to say that because he didn’t know you weren’t supposed to. When we “grow up” we learn fear, apprehension, self-preservation and self-defense. Evan knew when his parents were there because he kept his heart open to being found and connected to what he’d heard. He never let the bullies in the group home talk him into saying that his parents were not coming for him. He clung stubbornly to his belief and kept his heart open to being found and in the end he was. Life may not always work that perfectly – more often than not it doesn’t. But I think there’s something to be said for living in such a way where we believe that we can be found and are open to that possibility.


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