August: Osage County


(out of 5)

The hit Broadway play by Tracy Letts makes its way to the big screen with fully satisfying results.   lords over the roost of an eccentric (to say the least) Oklahoma family thrown into disarray when her husband () walks out of the house and vanishes without a trace.  Almost immediately she is surrounded by family from near and far, with her sister (, outstanding) and three daughters (, , ) showing up to offer support.  When things take an even darker turn, the combination of these characters plus their men (, , , ) and Roberts’ daughter () make for a tinderbox of combinations and conflicts.  Streep’s Violet is a genuine piece of work, a foul-mouthed, ornery and explosive woman whose addiction to pills combined with her suffering cancer of the mouth (and how unsubtle is that poetic justice) are only veiled excuses for the venom she spews at anyone who comes near her.  When the film works best is when it fully accepts that it is a filmed play and doesn’t mind you knowing it:  exchanges at the dinner table, particularly between Streep and a grounded, awe-inspiring Roberts, rivet you to your seat with dialogue that rings in your ears for miles afterwards (“Eat your fish, bitch!”)  Flourishes that look to add cinematic expansiveness to a stage bound piece (a run through a hay field, a trip to the doctor) feel like unnecessary additions to what is a perfectly tight collection of character encounters.  Its flaws are minor, though, so watch it and wonder at the powerhouse of talent being combined here.

, , ,

USA, 2013

Directed by 

Screenplay by , based on his play

Cinematography by 

Produced by , , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  TIFF 2013

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Awards:  2013

Golden Globe Award Nominations
Best Performance By An Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical (Meryl Streep)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Julia Roberts)

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Julia Roberts)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Adapted Screenplay

British Academy Award Nomination
Best Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts)

Chicago Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
Best Adapted Screenplay

AugustOsageCountyThis publicity image released by The Weinstein Company shows, from left, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Meryl Streep in a scene from "August: Osage County." (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Claire Folger)


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