“August” (2011) is the first feature film of Eldar Rapaport, expanding the 2005 short “Postmortem” that was included in “Boys Briefs 3.” The birthday party in “August” is later in the proceedings and more successful than the one in “Street of Bad Boys” (in which the surprise party was unwelcome and harmful to the budding relationship).
In both the short and the feature, Australian actor Murray Bartlett plays a gay man in his mid-to-late 30s named Troy who returns to LA from Spain. His leaving broke the heart of a younger partner named Jonathan (played by Donald Dugan in both versions, though he was named “Thomas” in the short). Jonathan recovered and has a devoted Latino boyfriend, named Raúl (Adrian Gonzales in the feature). Jonathan resists, if unsuccessfully, Troy’s seduction. Jonathan must be good in bed (the sex scenes are very reticently shot, so it is impossible to tell), because he is lacking in charisma and is not gorgeous. The mystery for me is why either Troy or Raúl wants him, and why Raúl puts up with Jonathan’s dalliance with his ex. (Raúl asks the good question of why he is putting together a 30th’s birthday party for his immature inamorata, but it is only a rhetorical question in the screenplay.)
All the scenes except the inevitable threesome (at the end of the birthday party when much alcohol and marijuana have been consumed) drag on. Jonathan looks even less attractive after allowing Troy to shave his head (to match Troy’s own) in a very hot LA summer (though without air-conditioning, I’d think that the men would be sweating and suffering more than they appear to).
There’s little humor, either of the intentional or the unintentional sort… well maybe that the men are wearing underwear immediately following sex in stultifying (105+F) heat. I don’t care whom, if anyone, Jonathan ends up with. Another mystery is why the soundtrack is Middle Eastern (Yuval Ron as Suduque), since none of the characters are, nor is the setting (nor is Barcelona, from where Valley native Troy has returned after four-plus years).
I’m not completely sure if Jonathan’s female friend, Nina (Hilary Banks) who has married Raúl for immigration status is his coworker. Her role and that of another frustrated suitor of Troy, Devon (Brad Standley), picking up from the past when he got some sex but little emotional satisfaction from Troy are underdeveloped, even while the movie seems stretched out and padded. It ends patly (one could say with a whimper rather than with a bang, but more clearly than the short’s ending). David Au’s nonlinear editing doesn’t help matters, but the main weaknesses are the writing (especially the underwriting of Raúl’s part) and the dullness of Donald Dugan’s apex of the triangle.