'August: Osage County' Premieres At TIFF: How Did The Adaptation Of The Play About Strong Women Fare?

John Wells' August: Osage County adaptation premiered last night at the Toronto International Film Festival after years of being performed as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts play. The movie boasts a star-studded caast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis and Sam Shepard.

Osage County
Meryl Streep & Julia Roberts Serve Up Roaring Performances In August: Osage County.

The plot centres on outspoken matriarch, Violet (Meryl Streep), who is addicted to painkillers with the excuse that she has mouth cancer. Her husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) hires a Native American housekeeper (Misty Upham) to take care of his wife and he moves away. Upon her husband's absence, Violet summons her three grown-up daughters who have each moved away from the isolation of their family home, set in the desolate landscape of Oklahoma.

Watch The Osage County Trailer:

The three daughters, Ivy, Barbara and Karen (Julianne Nicolson, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis), rock up for a family reunion they'd rather avoid with Barbara bringing her estranged husband (McGregor) and their 14 year-old weed-smoking daughter (Abigail Breslin). Continually berated by their cranky and critical mother, arguments constantly break out, which makes for some darkly humorous viewing as some closeted skeletons emerge.

Osage County Julia Roberts
The Family Struggle To Stop Fights Breaking Out And Skeletons Tumbling Out Of The Closet.

"As Vi, Streep is every bit as mercurial, ferocious and funny as one would expect[.]she careers from needling attacks to sneaky insinuations, from drugged-out incoherence to puddles of self-pity, often punctuating those shifts with a vulgar snort of a laugh," says THR who praise Streep's depiction of the "venomous gorgon" mother. However, THR also remarks that Streep is perhaps too perfect for the role: "[she] brings no element of surprise" in a role that "might have benefited from a left-field casting choice."

The Telegraph are concerned that the movie adaptation is not as good as the "brilliant staging at the National Theatre," grumbling that "It just isn't quite the saga, the American epic, Letts first presented." The movie's changed ending - due to a whittled down script - is also questioned, and it is stated that "The original, full-blown ending might have capped this performance more emphatically."

Osage County Meryl Streep
If Not The Movie, Could Streep Be In Line For An Academy Award?

Julia Roberts' character, Barbara, depicted to be truly her mother's daughter in her fits of fury and contradictions "turns out to be [Wells'] top trump in a performance admired as "just a notch down from Erin Brockovich as her best work ever."

Criticised for its lack of profundity, Wells' August: Osage County is praised on balance for its actors and scene-setting, yet made not have stretched itself far enough to be in the running for an Oscar. The Telegraph neatly sums up "A vastly enjoyable theatrical banquet[...]served up in a bit of a rush[..]But you certainly don't come away feeling hungry."

Produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein, the movie will strike a chord with anyone who has ever experience the infuriation of that unique group of people who, like it or not, have an immense bearing on one's life: the family.

Osage County Movie
Those Who've Experiences The Trials Of Family Life Will Identify With
August: Osage County.


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Tags: Meryl Streep - Ewan McGregor - Julia Roberts - Juliette Lewis - Benedict Cumberbatch - Abigail Breslin - George Clooney - Sam Shepard

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