Meryl Streep's performance as a gorgon mother has been lauded in this family drama.
August: Osage County premiered at this week's Toronto International Film Festival to a storm of excitement from early critics and Oscar nudging. However, a few days later the dust has settled around John Wells' adaptation of Tracy Letts' award-winning play and we are able to catch our breath and collect our thoughts.
Meryl Streep Shines In August: Osage County As A Ferocious Mother.
Director John Wells' movie has been praised for its immersive scene setting and its out-of-the-park performances from an all-star, yet respected cast that includes Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Abigail Breslin.
Streep stars as harsh matriarch Violet who summons her three daughters, who have all moved far from their Oklahoma dusty track home, when her husband and their father Beverly goes missing. Roberts, Lewis and Nicholson rock up as Barbara, Karen and Ivy with Barbara's estranged husband Bill (McGregor) and weed smoking daughter Jean (Breslin) in tow. They are confronted by their painkiller-popping, cancer stricken mother who loves an excuse to start an argument and have a dig at someone. The whole family arguments make for darkly humorous viewing as some unexpected skeletons come tumbling out of the cupboard.
Julia Roberts' Barbara Must Come To Terms That She's Very Like Her Mother.
The Guardian is concerned that August: Osage County has lost the magic of its staged production having been adapted into a film, especially as the original three hour run time has been shaved down to short of two hours. "It does feel closer to panto than melodrama," says Catherine Shoard remarking, "Sometimes the theatre and the movie house seem very far apart." THR elaborates: "Pulling back from the heightened reality of the stage muffles some of the savagery of Letts' humor."
The Tremendous Performances Hold The Movie Together & Make For Stirring Viewing.
Once again, The Telegraph can't shake from their mind August: Osage County's "brilliant staging at the National Theatre," grumbling that the movie "isn't quite the saga, the American epic, Letts first presented." Though THR picks out the "mercurial, ferocious and funny" Streep and Vi and Roberts' "grittiest role since Erin Brockovich," it is Wells' direction that comes under fire for his work lacking "the cohesiveness to really pull all the characters together and convey their shared past" despite some smooth individual scenes.
It seems that, whilst Wells' August: Osage County may have brought the Oklahoma family drama to a wider audience, there have had to have been some destructive sacrifices made along the way. The movie is affecting and will certainly strike a chord with everyone who has endured tense family reunions but the movie's lost profundity that made the play so special will probably keep that shining gong away.
What Will Be The Climactic Conclusion To The Family's Forced Reunion?