I have decided to return to have another look at Eldar Rapoport’s “August” mainly because I have learned more about and I really want people to be aware of this very special movie, “August” grew out of a short film, “Postmortem” with the same characters but here it is more finely developed. (There is a short review of “Postmortem: here at my site). I suppose that one o the things that brought me back to the film is realizing that the director is Israeli and since I spend much of my life in Israel, anything that comes from there is interesting to me.
“August” is the story of two men who once were lovers who went through a long and painful breakup. Troy (Murray Bartlett) has been is Spain for several years and has now returned to Los Angeles and calls Jonathan (Daniel Dugan), his ex, and invites him to meet for coffee. What began as a simple and innocent meeting becomes an attempt to revive what was. It is not so easy though. Jonathan has a new partner, Raul (Adrian Gonzalez) and he tries to do the right thing. Jonathan and Raul have been very happy and even though Jonathan has his own apartment, they practically live together. The situation is a bit complicated in that Raul married Jonathan’s best friend so that he can stay in this country. With Troy’s return to America, things begin to change, Jonathan loved Troy but when his heart was broken by him, he moved on and Troy left for Spain. It was not easy for Jonathan to get over the affair and we see as we look in that Troy is trouble but he wants Jonathan back and he knows that Jonathan is still not over him. For some reason after they have coffee, Jonathan goes home with Troy and when they met for a second they had sex. Raul is a bit suspicious but says nothing because he trusts and respects Jonathan but it seems that Jonathan does not really know what he is doing or what he wants. It is obvious that Troy wants him back. Raul encourages the three of them to come together to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday and they get a little too drunk and into a ménage a trios. Troy finally sees what is happening and he decides to go back to Spain and leave Jonathan and Raul to each other.
What is it about this film that has hooked me so? I certainly have not had a similar experience so I am not sure. The character development is fascinating and the three characters are each interesting in his own way. Raul is, of course, the most complicated because he is the third wheel and he does not know how to react to what Jonathan is doing. Most of his feelings were reflected in his eyes which said more than any line of dialogue. Jonathan had a certain charm that obviously both Raul and Troy felt and he was in a position that he had to make a decision which could not have been easy for him.
Certainly the idea for the story is not new. All of us have felt something for an ex. Is it perhaps the sex that is missed? Troy is a playboy and seems like he would have no trouble finding a man when he wants one so it is hard for us to see what the attraction of Jonathan is. Could it perhaps be that Troy is hurt to see Jonathan in a relationship? While the scenes seem disconnected, we realize at the end that everything was connected. The dialogue between the characters was also strange in that some of them just ended or wound down. I found that there is a certain sensuality and sensitivity in the film which makes the sexual tension very real.
The film is a visual feast with beautiful cinematography that sweeps the viewer into the film and the actors portray their characters realistically. This is a movie of the senses that relies upon nonverbal communication to give us sexual tension. There are many different layers to the film which allow for as many different ways of understanding what we see. We know the characters only superficially and in reference to what is happening at present and we do not need to know more than that.