Tom and Josh Sterling have a start-up dot-com. It's gone public to initial success. Josh is the technical genius. Tom is the fast-talking and abrasive CEO, in charge of the business side. It's August, 2001, less than a month before they can sell their shares and, perhaps, make lots of money. But the company is running out of cash, its main client is stalling, and share values are falling. For Tom to maintain the firm's appearance, he must find cash: investors could rescue him, but at a high cost of his potential wealth and company control. Tom goes to his brother for a loan. At the same time, an old flame, Sarrah, comes back to the city. Can Tom hold things together, bravura and all?Written by
not as powerful as it might have been but not without interest
In "August," Josh Hartnett plays a cocky, twenty-something entrepreneur named Tom Sterling who, for the past several years (the movie is set in the early 2000s), has been riding the dot.com 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. The minor characters are bland and insufficiently developed, and even Tom is deficient in the kind of depth and shading he would need to make him a representative "tragic hero" for our time. That being said, the movie does offer some intriguing insights into the way the business world works these days and into which type of individual typically succeeds in the new arena. And which type fails.
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