Early Oscar talk seems to have been premature, but this is Meryl Streep...
With an all-star cast – an overused but truly relevant phrase for this film – and a hit, Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway stage play providing the architecture, August: Osage County looked to be nailed on for Oscar success. But the early Toronto reviews are in, and while it’s hard to find a critic that slates it, a five-star turn around is equally rare.
The film surrounds tragedy in three of its foulest, alliterate forms: disease, drugs and death. Violet (Streep) suffers from oral cancer, leading to or at least catalysing a newfound drug addiction. Her husband – Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) is an alcoholic poet.
Not weeks after Beverly decides to hire a live-in cook and caregiver for Violet, he goes missing. And while the family come together to try and find him, it’s not long before the news of his suicide hits home. Complicated family issues then simmer towards boiling point as the family, not used to being close to each other and fraught with past issues, work through the daemons that tore them apart.
But it's not all doom and gloom
“None of these characters are sympathetic, nor should they be, but we aren't given a reason to personally invest, relate or even understand the depth of betrayals and bad behavior that has stacked up over the years. These are clearly people who don't like being together, but yet the movie doesn't give the audience a reason to want to be with them either,” say IndieWire of the odd dynamic between the family members.
Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Ewan McGregor - who's nursing a hangover?
While somehow finding the will to create anything ever again, having watched what could easily be called ‘how to die quite soon’, The Telegraph were impressed with individual performances, but perhaps less enamoured with the film as a whole. A four-star review was still awarded, though.
“Streep plunges into Violet's nuclear psyche so ferociously that there's a slight danger of forfeiting our sympathies for good. The original, full-blown ending might have capped this performance more emphatically. That said, the fact that she's being played by Streep is a guarantee you're going to get both the wild ride and the poignant hangover,” goes their review.
And while we said it’s hard to find a critic moved to slating territory, we still managed to. “It's bracing, but it does feel closer to panto than melodrama, more exhausting than illuminating. Violet is a queen bitch with only the tiniest of chinks, a hybrid of Streep's imperious Thatcher, Kristin Scott Thomas in Only God Forgives and, in cuddlier moments, Ricky Tomlinson in The Royle Family. Yet for all the sparks, the character can't quite catch fire in these conditions,” say The Guardian.
An acting nod for Streep might come of this, but it looks as though Oscar talk surrounding Osage County was premature, and ulitimately misplaced.
Julia Roberts gives Meryl Streep a massive hug