Beware of movies in which child actors speak in a throaty whisper. It’s meant either to spook you (The Sixth Sense) or to signal wonder with a capital W. In this utterly bizarre, overly precious fantasy, Freddie Highmore does so much whispering, we felt a strong impulse to send him some lozenges. He plays ten-year-old orphan and musical prodigy Evan. Convinced that his parents are alive, he runs away from the orphanage and sets out for New York City to find them.
Evan’s right, of course: He’s the product of a brief fling between a concert cellist (Russell) and an Irish rocker (Rhys Meyers), who are both drawn by some inexplicable urge to visit New York just when their long-lost son is in town. But Evan gets tangled up with Wizard (Williams, who overcompensates for Highmore’s whispering by shouting most of his lines), a sort of Fagin of young street musicians. Evan also spends time with an African-American church choir and does a brief stint at Juilliard. By the time he’s conducting a new symphonic work in Central Park, we’re in wonder overload. Director Kirsten Sheridan and cinematographer John Mathieson give the film a syrupy glow, as if the material isn’t sweet enough. Maybe Highmore should have whispered for a rewrite.
Cast and crew
Jonathan Rhys Meyers