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3.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 it’s 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 wouldn’t 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, Tom’s 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. He’s also a master at talking loud and saying absolutely nothing. One of the filmmakers’ conceits is that we’re 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 company’s 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, it’s 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 won’t keep you from wanting to take a shower when it’s all over. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Josh Hartnett, Naomie Harris, Adam Scott, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Andre Royo
  • Directors: Austin Chick
  • Producers: Josh Hartnett, Charlie Corwin, David Guy Levy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00177YA74
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,423 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "August" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The Bottom Line:

Weaving an unmistakable atmosphere of gloom over the story of an arrogant dot-commer attempting to keep his dying company afloat several months after most other such companies have collapsed, director Austin Chick elevates August into quite a little modern tragedy; it was panned by critics but between the electric performance by David Bowie in the film's final act, a wonderfully sour Rip Torn, and the aforementioned direction by Chick there is a great deal to like in this already-forgotten picture

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I had wondered when a mainstream film would attempt to show the business sector just prior to 9/11, and this was advertised to be it - all the way down to the month name in the title. By itself August would mean nothing in a title unless it had something to do with what changes the world a couple weeks later.

The casting choices also peaked my interest with David Bowie, Rip Torn, Chirqui and Naomie Harris. Josh Hartnett plays the CEO of an Internet company going through significant financial troubles. He plays the front of the future being extremely bright and everything being OK, even though his company should have been folding yesterday. Especially once the mandated recovery deadline of September 14th passes, the world should be his oyster. With them actually mentioning an important date for their company, I thought the film might go that far chronologically, but they do not.

The story starts right out in the high gear Hartnett's character plays most of the film, but it quickly dissipates into boring subplots, tons of unanswered questions, and eventually really bad acting. Even Torn's performance was staged (on purpose I guess since he is way better than this). The one saving grace comes towards the end with David Bowie's three minutes on screen; he was very believable as the hostile takeover kind of guy. But he vanishes and the film comes to an ambiguous ending that never even alludes to the upcoming destruction. It just fades to black and you realize you just wasted 90 minutes. They do interject one CGI shot of the twin towers, but nothing else ties together to the title relevance.

Hartnett is adequate, but his upcoming role in I Come With the Rain looks significantly more challenging and productive. Chirqui's role was for two scenes, and Torn for just a few minutes. Overall, this can't be given a higher rating as honestly, nothing really happens.
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Much as this movie appears to be about the dot-com bubble, it's really a character piece about the people IN that bubble. Josh Hartnett - who I wrote off years ago due to that "Wicker Park" atrocity, which I hate with the heat of a thousand fiery suns - apparently went through some stuff between then and making "August", because he's quite amazing in this later film. I was impressed by how well he portrayed the kind of bloviating, self-worshipping, entitled little prick that fueled that insane bubble. From the very second he opened his mouth, I wanted to slap him across the room. He's INSUFFERABLE.

But that is exactly what Tom Sterling is supposed to be, or rather how he presents to the world. This character has layers, but it's hard to see them precisely because Tom doesn't WANT anyone to see them. So in order to grasp the character, you really have to pay attention, because hidden in that egomaniacal, bullying bravado is exactly what one would expect - a scared, lonely guy whom no one likes because he's the kind of guy who can get this job done, and who actually likes a guy like that? (I found the moments when he reaches out to his brother and is inevitably rebuffed to be especially painful.) He's an adolescent who never grew up, an arrested teenager who still thinks he can charm reality into rolling over for him, a puppy dog excellent at barking up a storm but hurt because nobody will pet him. He's a slick, annoying bully, but he's also a wounded, defensive child lashing out at the world by forcing it to give him what he wants. It's just that one day, the world decides it ain't gonna give him any more.

And that's when things get interesting. That's when the complexity kicks in, the layers start to be revealed.
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Format: DVD
In "August," Josh Hartnett plays a cocky, twenty-something entrepreneur named Tom Sterling who, for the past several years (the movie is set, rather portentously, in August 2001), has been riding the wave to easy fame and fortune - though he isn't quite prepared, either financially or emotionally, for the crash that is to come. Landshark, the company he founded with his brother, Joshua (Adam Scott), and of which he is currently CEO, has a couple hundred employees on its payroll, but pretty much everyone who works there is at a loss to explain just what it is the firm does or produces. Even worse, the company that was once valued at well over three-and-a-half million dollars is now worth just a paltry fraction of that amount, the "business model" having apparently failed to pan out as expected.

As written by Howard A. Rodman and directed by Austin Chick, "August" is essentially a cautionary tale set against the get-rich-quick hysteria that came to dominate in the early days of the internet, when virtually anybody with a half-baked idea and a smidgen of techno-savviness could become a high-stakes player on Wall Street. That many of these people were making their fortunes out of little more than the cyber equivalent of chewing gum and bailing wire - while producing nothing of any real substance or value in the long run - is what eventually led to disaster for so many of them and for the economy as a whole.

"August" does a reasonably effective job capturing the moral emptiness and emotional shallowness of the characters and the world they inhabit, but, when all is said and done, the movie lacks the dramatic heft and focus needed to turn it into a profound and major work.
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