Josh Hartnett in August

The brothers Sterling fight to keep their NYC-based Internet startup afloat

August plays out almost entirely in the testing fire of crisis, as the brothers Sterling fight to keep their NYC-based Internet startup afloat. Josh (Adam Scott) is the visionary designer, a family man and amiable pushover. Tom (Josh Hartnett) is the company's avatar, a double-donged s.o.b. Lothario and Hindenberg of egotistic flatus who made his name through gun-slinging sales brinkmanship (given the script's snowstorm of jargon, they might as well be in the widget business). When their once-invincible brainchild is fatally hit in the dot-com bubble's mid-'01 pop, Tom, never inoculated to failure, has to transform himself from a logo, broadcasting corporate brio, into a human. I like Hartnett—an all-American alpha who's taken to prodding the limits of his innate, impassive confidence—and his scenes with a disproving boomer dad (Rip Torn) crackle, despite the cloddish generation-clash dialogue. But that vitality doesn't carry through. August seems to be missing something essential—a prologue? Or maybe it's not what's missing that's the problem, but what's here: the personal-crisis-as-photo-op voguing, the laptop-glitch soundtrack accessorizing white-collar despair. Whatever the case, the curtain-call cue for redemptive revelation registers only as a gesture, no more sublime than the slo-mo badass posturing that came before.

 
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