August Osage County

August Osage County

Starring  Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Wells, George Clooney
4.0 out of 5 starsA dark profane film with some remarkable performances

By M. Oleson TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 18, 2014

Format: DVD

Theatrical review. There may be spoilers.

Set in dusty, sweltering Oklahoma, director John Wells, using an adapted screenplay by Tracy Letts, provides the viewer with the dysfunctional family of the year. Early on we meet the patriarch, Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) who is interviewing a woman to care after his cancer-stricken wife Violet (Meryl Streep). Bev is an alcoholic and Vi is a drug addict. Her mouth cancer causes severe burning pain so she has buckets of pills which she's happy to take even if she wasn't in pain.

When Bev turns up missing, Vi calls her 3 daughters and her sister to come help find him. One of the side effects of the narcotics is that they take Vi to a new level of nastiness. And she's one nasty women even when sober. Her oldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) comes from Denver with her estranged husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and their daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin). Juliette Lewis plays daughter Karen who brings her fiancé Steve (Dermot Mulroney). Julianne Nicholson is the other daughter Ivy who is having an affair with her cousin Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch). Vi sister Mattie (Margo Martindale) is nearly a match for Vi in terms of her foul mouth, but at least she's sober most of the time.

The film's centerpiece is the verbal violence zinged between Vi and Barbara. Frankly, it is almost shocking to hear the vitriol coming from Roberts and Streep as these characters. I suspect they tossed out more F-bombs in this movie than they have in their cumulative careers. Some of it is uncomfortably funny I admit, but his film is hardly a comedy, even a black comedy. I was reminded of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" from 1966 where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton go at it in front of their 2 innocent guests.Read more ›

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5.0 out of 5 starsAmazingly enacted characters that one quickly learns to love to hate

By The Barefoot Reviewer TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 18, 2014

Format: DVD

We ended up at the theatre watching this because it tickled my fiancee's fancy based on some radio interview or other and walked in knowing nothing about it. We're both glad we went.

The high-level summary of the plot is that there's not much plot. The family patriarch dies and for the next two hours we see the aftermath as the family comes together to grieve (or not) and to dig up old grievances against each other. I don't really need to tell you much more than that because I think on some level everyone has lived through or seen this situation. The only variation is the extent to which your own family gets along. Suffice to say that this family most assuredly does NOT.

The real highlight of the movie lies in the characters themselves and of course with the acting. With a cast like this it is thoroughly impossible to be anything but immaculately portrayed. This collection of characters features all the most delightful archetypes of dysfunction: The harpy shrew of a matriarch who is flawlessly selfish, combative and conniving, the daughter(s) who escaped her and hopped from man to man for validation, the in-law who tries to feel up the teenager and of course everyone seems to have cheated with someone else. The full range of human frailty and family dysfunction is on display.

In the end this was a wonderfully real movie. Some reviewers have criticized this movie as 'over the top' and unbelievable and I assure you that it absolutely is NOT. This sort of thing happens every day and if anything it's slightly less dramatic than reality. It is my sad duty to report that plenty of people live their lives in just this way and it's why not everyone goes home for the holidays. All that said, it's a movie you probably need to be n the mood for.Read more ›

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5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars for the Acting

By Jay B. Lane TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 16, 2013

Format: DVD

Is it Oscar time already? Here comes Meryl Streep's 2013 entry, a film adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play of the same name; AND she has amazing company. This cast is to die for, even though the hateful characters they portray are ruthless, sordid and cruel. (This has been opened in a few select cities in order to qualify for this year's Academy Awards.)

We admire:
* Meryl Streep ("Hope Springs") Violet is pure venom, even after we hear her life history and try to sympathize, she's just evil. Her drug of choice makes quite a pharmacy! In my opinion, Streep is given too full a rein: The dialog is adequate, we don't need all the histrionics as well. I saw this on stage and it was effective without the extra Methody tics.
* Sam Shepard ("Safe House") Beverly her husband, has had enough. He prefers scotch.
* Julia Roberts ("Mirror Mirror") Barbara was her daddy's favorite, but the apple didn't fall very far from the tree: her tongue is pretty sharp and she is an unyielding sort of woman.
* Ewan McGregor ("Jack the Giant Slayer") Bill is trying to understand the family dynamics so maybe he can understand his wife Barbara a little better.
* Abigail Breslin ("Ender's Game") Jean is only fourteen, but pretending to be a little more grown up sure can be fun!
* Juliet Lewis ("The Switch") Karen didn't come back to the old homestead after she went off to college and THIS time she has hit it lucky!
* Dermot Mulroney ("Joline") Steve is wealthy, drives a great car and Karen will marry him in Florida next January!
* Margo Martindale ("Justified") Mattie Fae is Violet's only sister. They both have secrets.Read more ›



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