AUGUST follows Tom Sterling (Josh Hartnett) as an aggressive, young dot-com entrepreneur who fights to keep his start-up company afloat. Tom finds himself on a personal and professional downward spiral as he struggles to reunite with girlfriend Sarrah (Naomie Harris), attempts to regain control of his company from his apathetic investor Ogilvie (David Bowie), and must deal with age-old family wounds with his father, David (Rip Torn) and his brother Joshua (Adam Scott). The film also stars Emmanuelle Chriqui as Morela and Andre Royo as Dylan.
The specter of September 11th looms over August
--there are numerous indications that its set in 2001, and the title alone is an ominous indication of the imminence of that awful day--but watching this 2008 offering, one gets the feeling that even if Tom Sterling knew 9/11 was coming, he wouldnt change a thing. As written by Howard A. Rodman, directed by Austin Chick, and portrayed by John Hartnett, Tom is almost completely unlikable. A dot-com entrepreneur in those heady days before the techno bubble burst and internet companies like his Land Shark went directly south, Toms hipper than his neck tattoo, disdainful of his competition, borderline abusive to his younger, meeker brother (the technical brains behind the company they founded together), hostile to his parents, and a jerk to his former girlfriend, the one person he actually seems to care about. Hes also a master at talking loud and saying absolutely nothing. One of the filmmakers conceits is that were never told exactly what it is that Land Shark does; Tom mouths some nonsense about providing "bleeding-edge, mission-critical, cross-platform, robust, scale-able architectures," but the companys principal function, as his dad (Rip Torn) puts it, seems to be to provide office space for his young employees to eat Oreos and play computer solitaire, and when Land Shark meets the fate of others of its ilk, its mighty hard to care. No flies on Hartnett--the guy is a star, and rarely less than watchable. But August
is a cold film, in both look and feel, and even a brief but memorable scene near the end with David Bowie as the one character who seems able to talk straight wont keep you from wanting to take a shower when its all over. --Sam Graham