Rating: (2 out of 5) Saturday, 10/15/2011, 8:45 PM Feature presentation, $12 at Globe Theatre
AUGUST IS A gorgeous film filled with gorgeous people lit gorgeously and styled perfectly in front of the gorgeous background that is Los Angeles. Unfortunately, all that beauty is skin deep. What wants very badly to be a complex and sophisticated examination of love, lust and jealousy ends up amounting to little more than a glossy magazine pictorial for a product we never see.
Troy (Murray Bartlett), back from Spain and looking to re-establish his life in Los Angeles, gets in touch with his ex-boyfriend Jonathan (Daniel Dugan). While Troy has been away, Jonathan has started a new relationship with Raul (Adrian Gonzalez), an Argentinean immigrant who is trying desperately to achieve legal status to stay in the United States and remain with Jonathan.
But what starts as an innocent cup of coffee quickly transforms into something that no one saw coming.
Or, more accurately, transforms into something that we all saw coming from a mile away. The only real surprises offered by director Eldar Rapaport and Brian Sloan, with whom Rapaport shares the dubious story credit with, is just how far they are willing to press things and how much disbelief they are willing to ask the audience to suspend. The choices made by the characters wobble between the ill advised and the outright ridiculous, with a kind of mopey, handsome stoicism doing much of the emotional heavy lifting.
There is, apparently, no problem you can’t solve by staring off into the middle distance with a blank, albeit smoldering, expression on your face.
The most frustrating performance comes from Dugan, who either intends Jonathan to be completely divorced from reality and the ability to take some level of personal responsibility or, as it often appears onscreen, altogether dim. It would be one thing if we are to believe that the character of Jonathan has absolutely no sense of self, but it is another if audience members believe Dugan simply elected instead not to give him one.
Undeniably, in his role as director, Rapaport can take credit for crafting a visually rich collection of often-arresting images. August is gorgeous. But, as many an out- of-work actor in Los Angeles can attest, good looks will only get you so far.
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