Thanks to Kate for finding the first review of August. [SOURCE]
Directed by Austin Chick; Written by Howard A. Rodman
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Adam Scott, Naomie Harris, Robin Tunney, Andre Royo, Emmanuelle Chriqui, David Bowie, Rip Torn.
As I watched the sophomore effort from Austin Chick (XX/XY), I kept thinking that this was the kind of movie that would go over much better at the Tribeca Film Festival than at Sundance, because it’s such a New York City story with people who any New Yorker who has spent any time in a lower Manhattan bar in the years since the internet boom of the ’90s will have encountered. Set in the world of Wall Street pre-9/11—there’s a brief glimpse of the World Trade Center to set the tone—it’s the story of two brothers, Josh Hartnett’s Tom Sterling, the aggressive and arrogant CEO of a start-up internet company called Land Shark, and his brother Josh (Adam Scott), the real brains of the project who is trying to balance a new family with his brother’s attitude and ambitions……..
Cut from the same cloth as Charlie Sheen in “Wall Street” if it were set 15 years later, Tom Sterling is a fascinating character to watch as he deals with the rigors of running a company while displaying a care-free casually dressed attitude that we learn is mostly for show. In fact, the brothers’ company is failing, running under a business model that makes little sense to anyone who examines it more closely, causing friction with his family and co-workers alike. At the same time, Tom is trying to reconnect with an ex-girlfriend (Naomie Harris) who he lost as the company started to succeed, and she tries to act as his moral compass not unlike Bill Murray’s former girlfriend Claire in “Scrooged.”
With a cleverly written screenplay by Howard Rodman, who also adapted “Savage Grace,” this talking heads drama is only bogged down by its deliberately slow pace, and over the course of the movie, we never learn exactly what Land Shark does, something made clearer by the film’s most memorable scene involving Rip Torn as their father dressing Tom down over dinner, which is only trumped later when David Bowie shows up as a wealthy investor who gives Tom a valuable life lesson that when it comes to business, no one is expendable.
This is a great role for Hartnett as he’s able to get away from his chronic nice-guy image, though so much focus is put on Tom’s character arc that a lot of the subsidiary characters like his brother don’t have time to develop. Considering what a large part the relationship between the brothers is supposed to play in the story, one might wish there was more interaction between Hartnett and Scott, because ultimately, it’s the family dinners that speaks volumes about their troubled partnership.
Despite the interminably slow pace, there’s aspects of this film that stick with you despite it not being nearly as immediate as “Wall Street”, but the worthwhile attempts at creating realistic character dynamics and situations within a very specific era in New York is notable for sure.