The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

August: Osage County | Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Misty Upham | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

 

August: Osage County

Tracy Letts wrote the screenplay of August: Osage County, based on her Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play that she cut from four hours down to under two.  Having not seen the play, I can't imagine what she left out in her film adaptation since there is so much covered on screen.  That said, we have visited this type of story before.  You know, the kind where relatives gather together and before you know it all hell breaks loose.  What is so impressive about this particular tale is the stellar ensemble cast, led by Meryl Streep, who has never been better.

The story is set during the hot and humid month of August in Osage County, Oklahoma, where the uncomfortable, sweaty temperature helps to spark some heated arguments in the Weston household.

Streep plays Violet, the nasty, vile mouthed, cancer stricken matriarch of the Weston family who calls together close family members after her poet husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) has gone missing, and is eventually found dead. Arriving at the rural homestead are Violet's three daughters;  eldest, strong willed Barbara (Julia Roberts) who drove in from from Colorado with her estranged husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and their 14 year old daughter Jean (Abilgail Breslin); middle daughter, quiet “good girl”  Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) who has stayed close to home to watch over her parents; flighty youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) with her latest boyfriend/fiance Steve (Dermot Mulroney) a successful businessman; Violet' s sister Mattie Fae Aiken (Margo Martindale) and husband Charles (Chris Cooper) and their son Little Charles (a miscast Benedict Cumberbach).

As interactions and conversations get underway, Violet's venomous side comes into focus, beginning with her spewing out unnecessary insults, putdowns, ridicule and abuse and escalating into a succession of heated arguments that lead to the reveal of several skeletons in the closet, secrets and lies, and the airing of all dirty laundry with no regard for its ramifications or consequences. Everyone has something to say, whether wittingly or are forced to take part in the disturbing family dynamics. No one, even Johnna (Misty Upham) the Native American woman hired by Violet's husband to be his wife's live-in cook and caregiver, is left unscathed.

Talk about dysfunctional families!  This one takes the cake, as everything from long, deep buried resentment, suicide, adultery, incest, drug abuse, pedophilia and more are all brought to light.

Streep is nothing short of magnificent. Almost unrecognizable, she disappears into the role of the overbearing, mean mother, who seems to have taken a page from Mommy Dearest's handbook. Turning in her best performance since Erin Brockervich, in her portrayal of a woman who refuses to stand by and let her mother get away with despicable behavior, regardless of her fatal illness, Roberts shows she is a force to be reckoned with, masterfully going head to head with Streep in their all out vocal battles.

As far as being labeled a dark comedy, I don't get it. Dark is certainly a fitting word, but I beg to differ when it comes to seeing any comedic aspects.  There is nothing to laugh about, unless you think there is humor in watching people go at each other verbally in the worst way.  Rather, calling this film a deeply effective family drama, featuring Oscar worthy performances from Streep and Roberts, would be more apropos.

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