4 July 2012 | gradyharp
Summer, Solstice, Synchronicity
Now and then along comes a film that is far more adventuresome than the PR suggests and such is the case of the very well constructed AUGUST. Written and directed by Eldar Rapaport (with Brian Sloan) this is a hard look at love relationships and how the test of time influences the success or failure of commitment. The choice of title reflects the generated heat of contentious relationships and just happens to be set in the time of the infamous Station Fire in Southern California in 2009, the largest and deadliest of the multiple wildfires, burning 160,577 acres (or 251 square miles), destroying countless homes, and killing two firefighters - a time when the Los Angeles basin was without electricity, full of smoke and ashes, and all nerves were on edge regarding the carnage.
Jonathan (Daniel Dugan) and Raul (Adrian Gonzalez) are a contented couple: though they live separately (Raul has married Jonathan's best friend Nina - Hilary Banks - for immigration purposes so they must maintain separate homes) they are devoted to each other and Raul is in the process of planning Jonathan's 30th birthday party. As an unexpected development Troy (Murray Bartlett), Jonathan's ex-boyfriend who has been living in Spain for several years after a painful breakup, arrives in Los Angeles at the height of the heat wave and moves in with his married brother Sean (Bernhard Forcher) and family. Troy calls Jonathan, arranges a meeting for coffee but is sure that Raul will enter the coffee shop to demonstrate the Jonathan is in a committed relationship. But old flames simmer and soon Troy is convincing the not unwilling Jonathan to rekindle their old passion, a liaison that becomes apparent to Raul. At Jonathan's 30th birthday party Nina and her chef boyfriend Nick (Mike Vaughn) invite Troy and Troy's good friend Devon (Brad Standley), and by the end of the evening the group hits the bars to smoke pot and drink. Raul then invites Troy to their home to join Jonathan and him in a physical liaison that results in Troy's 'wakeup call' about commitment as he sees the degree of passion between Raul and Jonathan: Troy as an outsider steps away and eventually returns to Spain - but we never know what will occur next.
AUGUST is blessed with a very fine cast of excellent actors who are able to pull off the intimacy of the story with decorum. There are some problems with the film: the director loses the audience with what feels like inadvertent non-linear storyline that disrupts the flow of the story, and the editor of the film David Au has cut and spliced the film in a disturbing and distracting manner. The musical score by Yuval Ron is heated Middle Eastern in flavor and at times covers the dialogue. But the story works in large part because of the exceptional acting and appeal of Murray Bartlett, Daniel Dugan, and Adrian Gonzalez. As the PR states, ' It is an irresistible gay romantic drama!