In Austin Chick's August, Josh Harnett is having a bad day. As pre-9/11 dot-com hotshot Tom Sterling, he's seen his parents and tech wonk brother treating him with contempt, the girl he's pining for giving him the brush-off, and his startup Internet company blowing up in his face. Drinking morosely at a bar (or as morosely as Hartnett can get) he lashes out at a fellow techie bandit who has just returned to the bar with a condemnatory, "Guys like you ain't got no vision, ain't got no passion, ain't got no soul." True enough. Tom is of course talking about himself but also, by extension, Hartnett's performance and Chick's film.
Chick's morality tale (a sort of insipid remake of Force of Evil except with techno sharks instead of gangsters) is all gloss and pizzazz but mostly pizz and no azz. August deals with two brothers, Tom and Josh (Adam Scott), who live large during the dot-com boom of '01, creating an in-the-moment start up called Landshark that is riding the top of the bubble with Joshua as the creative designer of the site and Tom as the obnoxious highfalutin promoter and resident SOB. Much like the World Wide Widget company in the satirical musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, there is no explanation given for what Landshark actually does; the company just is. But then it isn't. Soon after the opening credits and five months after its inception, the company is in the toilet and Tom is struggling to keep up the appearance of success for both the company and himself. But as in the Talking Heads song, they are both on the Road to Nowhere and somehow Tom has to come to grips with failure and regain his humanity, while looking out for his brother and his new family.
Continue reading: August Review