An elemental triangle elevated by unusually detailed attention to nonverbal psychological cues, “August” is a gay romantic drama that’s sexy without feeling like a flimsy excuse to bare well-toned skin (although its heatwave-in-L.A. setting conveniently allows just that). With minimal dialogue and a strong but subtle directorial hand, writer-helmer Eldar Rapaport probes the tensions that ensue when an ex re-enters the life of the now happily re-coupled lover he’d previously abandoned. Pic isn’t quite novel or universal enough to attract crossover biz, but should draw gay male auds in home formats in various territories, with limited theatrical exposure possible.
Handsome, charming, hardbodied Troy (Murray Bartlett) is back in Los Angeles after several years in Spain, claiming he was homesick. Shopping for a new architecture job and home, he shows signs of permanent resettlement here. But it’s soon clear that all this depends on whether he can worm his way back into the affections of younger Jonathan (Daniel Dugan), whose heart he broke not so long ago.
Actually that’s not the problem: Jonathan’s feelings for Troy are like an addiction he thought he’d kicked but comes roaring back full-force. The real problem is that he’s now involved with devoted, hunky Raoul (Adrian Gonzalez), an (unspecified) foreign national who has married Jonathan’s co-worker (Hilary Goldsher) in order to get the U.S. citizenship that would keep the two men together.
While Troy and Jonathan deny their liaisons to everyone, their reinvolvement is soon perfectly obvious to everyone around them, Raoul included. But Raoul isn’t going to surrender without a fight, and for all his weak-kneed acquiescence to Troy’s pursuit, Jonathan isn’t at all sure it’s worth throwing over an unquestionably loyal love for another who’s already betrayed him once.
There’s nothing very complicated about “August” in narrative terms, but tonally and texturally, Rapaport conveys myriad layers of truth, trust, love and lust. Constant reminders that the city is undergoing a sweltering summer month amplifies the mood of simultaneous physical yearning and discomfort. Glances and body language convey much more here than the protags are generally willing to say out loud.
While Rapaport doesn’t explore their inner lives beyond the immediate crisis at hand (there’s nothing like the fully rounded personality-sketching of triangle participants in last year’s “The Kids Are All Right”), perfs thoughtfully mine what depths there are. Lensing, editing and design contributions are all assured.