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August

2009-10-09 10:26
 
August

What it's about:

Tom (Josh Hartnett) and Joshua (Adam Scott) Sterling are the founders of Landshark, an audacious IT company that started strong, but is teetering on collapse. Joshua is the programming brains, and a family man with a young child, while Tom is the arrogant CEO who keeps the company’s image boosted and sweet talks investors. When analysts give the company a few weeks before they go bust, Tom has to find the capital somehow, or face losing control in a buy-out.

What we thought:

A low-key drama about the dot-com bubble bursting is not going to appeal to a very wide audience, despite a decent cast lead by the usually charismatic Josh Hartnett. Add a laid-back atmosphere, a mundane story, and an entirely unlikable protagonist and you have August. The question is, why would anyone make a movie like this?

The main strength is the cast, and they play their roles well, despite a weak script. August tries to marry fly-on-the-wall observation with slick cuts and lush visuals, and the performances mostly strike a good balance between natural and dramatic, working well with the atmosphere. 

On the downside, the actors are usually working against a vague and boring story and lacklustre characterisation. Josh Hartnett makes a very convincing arrogant charmer, but there is nothing more to him than some bravado and acting dismissive towards others. As accurate as that may be of some hard-nosed business people, Tom Sterling remains unchanged and unsympathetic from start to finish, making you wonder what the point was. From some of the sermonising and clunky plot devices, it is clear there is supposed to be one, but it just gets lost beneath the detached air of cool August constantly strives for.

It is telling that David Bowie’s two minute cameo as the owner of an investment company seems as fully realised as any of the other leading characters. Unfortunately, this isn’t indicative of a powerful performance (although he is good), but rather the sketchy nature of the writing. Rip Torn also gives it his all as Tom and Joshua’s embittered academic father, but is relegated to a mere foil to show up Tom’s selfish nature.

Any edge-of-your-seat drama about traders executing power plays and cutthroat deals can be gripping, as are many movies about fractured family and personal relations, but August never ever gets to sizzle. Director Austin Chick seemingly doesn’t know how to do convincing characters or decent pacing, because it’s just dull from start to finish. There was the occasional rare scene where everything came together and I actually cared what was happening to Tom and Joshua, but the rest of the time I couldn’t wait for it to end.


Two brothers try to save their nose diving dot-com company while dealing with personal problems, a month before the 9/11 attacks.

preshen govender 2009/10/15 1:50 PM
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I not going to pay money to see people fight for they jobs I can do the at work
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