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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
This excellent little film tells a story of two brothers and their struggling company in a timeline that just precedes 9/11. Several people on IMDb have commented that they don't see why the movie needed to be "cheapened with a 9/11 theme" or some such nonsense. Let's be clear: this movie is not about 9/11 but this was historically a crucial point for the dot-com bubble.
The movie does actually a wonderful job highlighting these events, without spelling them out in some awkward exposition. The story focuses mostly on one of the brothers: The Charismatic Tom (played by Josh Hartnett), who mostly handles the business aspects. Director Austin Chick does a good job immersing us in his life, his lifestyle, his struggles and his ambiguities. His uneasy rapports with his brother Joshua, co-founder of the company "Landshark", who is the quiet "tech guy" behind the operation. With his parents. His former girlfriend. Various other persons in his life and business dealing. It's an absolutely fascinating portrait. What really helps is Hartnett's performance. Now, I'm sorry to say I never was a fan of this fairly popular actor and he had failed to impress me until now... but this has changed. Hartnett is in fact the main strength of this movie, makes the story come alive and shines among a very, very solid cast around him. Tom's role as a confident, brash young guy who must keep appearance and keep his company afloat while he knows it's going down (along with his personal life) required a good acting palette.
It is a strength of the movie that it manages to push both the story of Tom and present an interesting portrait of this time period where economically, things were crashing. What we have here is a movie that could very well have been boring to death due to its topic (finances are a fairly abstract thing, and usually not terribly interesting unless they're your own) but instead becomes fascinating. In many ways, it is reminiscent of Wall Street. Various speeches that Tom delivers and his bout of negotiations lead to several strong moments.
This is a great movie. Where pretty much every scene is worthwhile and supports the overall themes that are pushed. Director Chick seems to have a purpose with every element presented and even the elements not present. Consider: we never get to know what Landshark does. At all. Which might seem weird yet is terribly fitting since along with other shooting star companies of the time, it was all a smoke screen anyway.
Great movie, probably a must buy for those who have an interest in the dot-com bubble.
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