August (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 So what’s the theme of the film August, by director Jay Gammill?  Well, basically…kids suck.  That’s not the real theme, but it’s like a secondary theme that smacks you in the head like a sledge hammer if you’re one of those kids who wasn’t popular in school or was picked on for how you looked.

Honestly though, the real theme of this movie is learning that what makes the man is not how you look, but what’s inside.  Such was the lesson learned by our main character, August (Dustin Belt), who was not only generally unpopular with the jocks in school, but he was in love with a girl he was afraid to ask out and constantly obsessed with his physical appearance.  He thought his face was crooked, and had basically zero self esteem because of it.  He had a best friend who also had a sort of a crush on the girl August liked, and he kept telling August there was nothing wrong with him and that he should just go for it…or he would.  August was so hung up on his appearance though, he could never bring himself to do it.

August convinces his parents to let him have surgery to correct his jaw line.  He has the surgery, and when he goes back to school and finds that nothing has really changed.  Unfortunately, he waited too long to ask out the girl he liked and his best friend finally hooked up with her.  The end of the film has August beating up his friend in the bathroom…and that’s it.  More on that later.

August is a beautifully shot, beautifully edited and extremely well acted short film, which holds a lesson for all of us.  Learn to be happy with yourself, because no matter how much corrective surgery you have, you’ll always be able to pick out something you still don’t like about yourself.  It can become an obsession that interferes with both your life and your happiness.

While everything about this movie was really well done, artistic, and professional looking, the ending really left me scratching my head.  It was so abrupt, it was like falling off a cliff when you thought there was at least another mile of road to travel.  The only thing I can equate it to is the endings in those old kung fu movies.  For any fans of the genre, you know that a lot of those kung fu movies have abrupt, kind of "non-endings".  While I enjoyed the movie as a whole and was able to identify with the characters and feel myself being immersed into the story, the ending left me feeling unsatisfied.  I suppose the story at that point had basically been told, but there could have been a few more scenes to sort of wrap things up gracefully.  Still, all in all this was an excellent film, and I really love to see independent films coming out that rise to this level of excellence.  Normally I’m not much into dramas, but this one really struck a chord with me.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.augustthemovie.com or the film’s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/augustthemovie.