August Movie Review

Nearly as bad as movies that insist on telling audiences how to feel, are those that spell everything out about what to think. But there’s a fine line between too much information and not enough, and it’s the skillful director who knows just how to navigate in between.

The dot com drama August is just that sort of sketchy fare. The exemplary ensemble cast counting Josh Hartnett, Naomie Harris, Robin Tunney, Rip Torn and David Bowie give it their all with bruising intensity. But it’s just not enough to define this outside-looking-in elusive story.

Josh Hartnett is Tom Sterling in August, a brash and ruthless young hipster dot com turk. He’s built a hot property Manhattan Internet company that was hatched as a wild idea in a local strip club, over a game of old-school pinball, no less.

Minutes later, we’re transported to an upscale downtown office where Tom is bossing around lots of idle young employees, strange slackers who seem to be nearly dying of boredom. It eventually sorta becomes apparent that this outfit may be a slick front for, well, nothing. But the cash keeps flowing in anyway from gullible investors, who may in fact know as little as we do.

There’s also a procession of anger mismanagement episodes, as Tom roams around the city furiously butting heads with friends, foes, family and business rivals alike. And in between he’s behaving just plain rude to assorted unbelievably receptive women, one of them a glutton-for-punishment old flame (Naomie Harris) whom he manages to re-con into bed, before she wises up all over again.

There is comeuppance in all this endless rat race rage, when David Bowie shows up as an avenging dot com designer suited dandy entrepreneur. And he reads Tom the riot act, formulated in fancy hostile takeover legal jargon.

We’re supposed to infer from all of the above, that the entire proceedings in August telegraphed on fast forward by director Austin Chick, are a prelude, or prequel conceit, to the events of 9/11. Or at least I detected as much from that elegant cheat sheet known as press notes. For me, this didn’t register at all. Though there might be some connection to be drawn, between a phantom company and a fairly pointless story.

First Look Studios

Rated R

2 stars