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
Probably hits the dot com implosion more accurately than any so far
August is a very finite and pointed film. It's a low-flying indie sleeper that has its points to make and it makes them quite effectively. Above all it really manages to nail a small moment in time, that of the dot-com implosion.
I, along with many others I'm sure, was part of a dot com start-up similar in some respects to Landshark. It was very common in those days of over-hyped speculation to bet tons of VC generated start-up capital on IDEAS that looked promising, when in reality much needed to happen before they could be realized. This didn't hold true for all start-ups, but a fair majority.
It's very easy to get caught up in the delusion that you're a "real" company when your stock is shooting up the charts and quite a glass of ice water to the face to realize all that speculated valuation can disappear overnight, which it did slowly over the course of late 2000 and 2001...it was never really there to begin with.
August grabs that bursting bubble in a number of effective ways. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that for all of Tom's boasting and bluster, he's nothing more than a hyped-up spin doctor. Watching this revelation sink his ego is entertaining if not more than a bit sad. Hartnett does an adequate job with the role.
The most true-to-life scene for me was the mass of staffers flocking around F**kedCompany.com, which was a popular barometer for the sink-age rate of companies about to go belly-up, instead of lounging at their Ikea desks playing solitaire...they're not lazy, they just have nothing to do...no customers, no product.
As a film, this is a tough one to sell to an audience who doesn't have first-hand experience in the story's premise. There is a lot of business/financial terminology/slang thrown around that to those not knowledgeable or interested in it will seem very boring.
It does what Indies do best...present a slice of life, with no pat clichés or feel-good endings. And for that, I liked it.
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