It’s always difficult expanding a short film into a feature length movie. If you add too much you’re in danger of losing what was special about the original short, but if you don’t add enough, the film feels stretched and thin. While August has plenty to recommend it, it does tend to suffer from the latter towards the end.
August is an expanded take on Eldar Rapaport’s 2005 16-minute short, Postmortem, and even keeps a couple of the same actors. Troy (Murray Bartlett) returns to LA after time in Spain and reconnects with Jonathan (Daniel Dugan), the man he had a painful break-up with before he left the country. They initially meet for coffee, but what starts as a seemingly innocent attempt to reconnect turns into a resurgence of their affair. However Jonathan now has a new boyfriend, Raul (Adrian Gonzalez), who seems to feel he was in a kind of competition with Troy even before he reappeared on the scene.
August is a film that’s likely to be best appreciated by people in their 30s and 40s who understand the ennui Troy is feeling. The movie creates a vivid sense of someone who feels lost and can’t escape the sense their life should be something different to what it is. You get the sense Troy looked at the brochure of adult life when he was in his early 20s and now finds that the reality looks nothing like the picture. As a result he reaches back to a time of comparative happiness, even if that means causing trouble for Jonathan, who still has feelings for Troy.
It’s a well filmed, nicely acted, acutely observed character and situation study that really understand the rudderlessness many feel in the early years of mid-life, as well as the confusion that comes with love, when your head and heart don’t really know what to do with one another. However the movie feels like its building towards something but never really pays off. Although the ending is intriguing, the movie goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. For the first two-thirds, August does a good job of not adding a huge amount of extra plot compared to the short, but managing to successfully expand the running time by close observation of its characters. However towards the end, this style results in a movie that feels slightly like it’s trailing off rather than coming to a conclusion. Although the film has a definite end, it’s not really the payoff to what’s gone before.
And I know it’s a small thing that happens in a lot of movies, but why do the guys wear clothes in bed, even just after sex? The movie spends a lot of time in bed, but even just after some hot and heavy action, the guys immediately put their underwear one. It’s probably in their contract that their man bits never appear on screen, but it’s one of those filmmaking annoyances it would have been nice if they’d found a subtler way of handling.
Overall Verdict: Despite the slight frustration of the ending, August is a well-made, contemplative movie and there’s no doubt Murray Bartlett, who plays Troy, is quite the hottie.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac