August: Osage County

august osage

Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by John Wells
Based on the play by Tracy Letts
Rating: A

August: Osage County gives dysfunctional family a whole new meaning. When a family emergency brings the Weston sisters home, along with their own family issues, it culminates into a fiasco. Secrets lead to drama and drama leads to fighting. The matriarch of the family, Violet Weston (Streep), is a drug addict suffering from mouth cancer. Looking at her life gives a prime example why her daughters are the way they are.

Each of these women are strong characters but they are also very messed up. The two big fighters are Violet and Barbara (Roberts), who provoke and push each other to the edge. It’s a destructive relationship but the other family members bring their share of issues into the household. It’s a strange family dynamic and the secrets that are revealed are meant to shock. The matriarch just continually says with an all-knowing smirk, “Nothing slips by me in this house.”

Streep and Roberts have been noted for their performances but there are more gems in this movie that deserve recognition. Streep’s drug addicted character is hard to sympathize with. She is not nice to be around and only creates more tension in family gatherings. The mouth cancer she suffers from can be taken literally by the need Violet has to speak her mind. Streep plays her character with such passion and emotion. Even if she isn’t the easiest character to be around, the pain she emits feels real. Roberts interaction with Streep is intense. They scream and get dirty fighting. Roberts shows us that her character Barbara is the true daughter of Violet from her strong-willed sense to fight back.

Other noteworthy performances would be Chris Cooper’s character Charlie Aiken. The audience sees Charlie’s character develop from the beginning to the end. He’s introduced as a non-confrontational man who hides from his strong-willed wife. By the end we see just how much he can take and it’s a big step for him. Julianne Nicholson is one of two sisters to Barbara. Her character Ivy has a lot of secrets and it shapes the decisions she makes in her life.

Between the acting and the dramatic plot, August: Osage County was a little hard to get through because the pace was slow. There wasn’t enough action to keep my mind from wandering but as the secrets get unveiled the tension draws you in until the end.

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