Critics Consensus

Josh Hartnett puts in a well-intentioned performance but overall, August only superficially explores its dotcom-burst setting.



Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,016
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August Photos

Movie Info

Josh Hartnett, Naomie Harris, Rip Torn, and Adam Scott star in director/co-screenwriter Austin Chick's tale about an ambitious dotcom entrepreneur attempting to stay afloat as the stock market begins to collapse and the entire country remains blissfully unaware of the national tragedy looming ever closer on the horizon. Tom Sterling (Hartnett) is on a professional downward spiral that's rapidly cutting into his personal life as well. His apathetic investor, Ogilvie (David Bowie), is refusing to relinquish control of the company that Tom is fighting to save, and his girlfriend, Sarrah (Harris), seems to have lost all interest in their relationship. In the midst of all this, Tom must also attempt to heal the wounds that have kept him estranged from his father, David (Torn), and brother, Joshua (Scott), as well.


Critic Reviews for August

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (16)

  • Anyone who thinks that Josh Hartnett isn't a true movie star should see his riveting, high-wire performance in August, a shrewdly dramatized look back at the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

    Jul 16, 2008 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Smartly scripted, convincingly atmospheric morality fable in which Hartnett, usually insubstantial as a good guy, plays a convincingly flawed character galloping toward the precipice.

    Jul 14, 2008 | Rating: 3/4

    John Anderson

    Top Critic
  • Only an amusing cameo by David Bowie enlivens things, but he's onscreen for just about two minutes at the end.

    Jul 11, 2008 | Rating: 0.5/4 | Full Review…
  • There's not much to it, but Austin Chick's hyper-focused indie does serve as a nicely assured showcase for lead Josh Hartnett.

    Jul 11, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Has a dark desperation thatâ(TM)s morbidly compelling. But the movieâ(TM)s amoral momentum is fatally slowed by an acronym-heavy script and flimsy characterizations that offer fine actors...little to play.

    Jul 11, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • August is a brooding, boring indie drama about the death of the culture-wide hallucination that was the dot-com bubble, and the moment when countless dot-com millionaires on paper became real-life paupers.

    Jul 10, 2008 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

    Nathan Rabin

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for August

  • May 31, 2011
    Interesting solely when viewed as an aesthetic antecedent to The Social Network, with its shadowy interiors and pulsing dark electronic soundtrack, but this is a small story that made for a small movie. There's nothing wrong with small movies, of course, but August's ambitions run deeper; it's got some Very Important Things to say about the stock market, and tech, and Faustian power-grabs. Also noble, but when Josh Hartnett delivers a puerile anti-capitalism monologue halfway through the film and is universally applauded for it, the movie's intentions become both clear and undefendable. The movie discourages us from clashing with Tom Sterling's perspective, and even though that big caps-locked HUBRIS stamp ultimately brings him down, it obviously wants us to see him as a misunderstood, insecure bad boy of business. August's ridiculous bias hits its boiling point with an insane, scenery-chewing performance by Rip Torn, where he growls about Oreos and attacks Josh Hartnett with some quasi-Enron "it doesn't do anything if you can't explain what it does" argumentation. See? He's just trying to prove to his grumpy blue-collar daddy that he can work too. Do you guys get it yet? If you don't, we can repeat the scene almost verbatim forty minutes later. It's hard to tell if Tom Sterling is a failed character because of the script or because of Hartnett's performance. He seems to have a rich understanding of the material (he also produced the film), but I think he lacks the range of expression required to humanize this character. Really, despite what August wants us to think, Tom really just comes across as an incompetent asshole. Short of an effortless deflation by David Bowie late in the film, he's actually part of very few substantial events through the course of the story, so there aren't many opportunities to see him react other than trying to overwhelm his problems with sheer bullheadedness. I guess it's a deficiency of writing, for the most part, but the point is that it's a character piece that fails. It's unique, and not a total disaster, but August is entirely skippable.
    Drew S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 02, 2010
    Voyons voir! Tom Sterling (Josh Hartnett) un jeune entrepreneur qui ce lance avec son frère dans le web (cela reste très vague et flou en ce qui concerne le produit ou service que vend la compagnie) et connait un mois d'août de misère. Bla bla et encore bla. Voilà tout ce qui se produit dans ce film! On suit le jeune josh qui tente de réglé sa vie pendant que sa compagnie tombe en faillite. 1h20 de pure blabla. Et la fin ? pitoyable! Il ne se passe jamais rien dans ce film, et ce, même pas à la fin. Même s'il joue à la télé, ne perdez pas votre temps! Il a probablement un meilleur film sur une autre chaîne. P.S.: Les tattoos de Tom sont ... affreux! Et la bande sonore l'est d'autant plus.
    Marc-André B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2010
    The premise of this film is the story of two brothers "fighting to keep their start-up company afloat on Wall Street", a month before 9/11. The real story is about a young man (Hartnett) whose cockiness ends up biting him in the @$$. Like many films, I only watched this film 1) because Josh Hartnett was in it, and 2) there was a refreshing interracial romance in it (with Ninja Assassin/Pirates of the Carribean actress Naomie Harris). But other than that, this film was nothing to write home about. I think even the creators knew this as they tried to make the film seem more important than it really was by trying to frame it historically with all the big things taking place at the time; like showing news clips of Bush's first few months as president; as well as what was going on in entertainment news at the time. What particularly unnerved me was the news clip of R&B singer Aaliyah's death in the Bahamas. I'm a huge fan of her music, but even I couldn't see the point of interjecting the story with a mention of her passing. We already know the film takes place in 2001. Stop beating us over the head with "breaking news." We get it. The movie had a sweet ending though, and I LOVED David Bowie's small but enjoyable appearance in the film.
    Remi L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 28, 2010
    Josh Hartnett's performance in this film, is a good reason to check out the movie. In my opinion, it is one of his best performances, so far. The film reminded me of films like The Prime Gig, Boiler Room, Less Than Zero, Nothing in Common, Up in the Air, American Psycho, and Glen Gary Glen Ross. Adam Scott is also very good, as Hartnett's brother. Scott and Hartnett have a good on screen chemistry. Robin Tunney and Rip Torn are solid in their roles. David Bowie steals the one scene that he is in. The music in the film is good. On a negative, the pacing is off. Also while Naomie Harris was ok in her role, I think another actress in that role, would have done a much better job. She didn't have a good on screen chemistry with Hartnett. Still the film is worth watching for the performances, especially Hartnett's.
    Sol C Super Reviewer

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