August: Osage County Movie Review

Tracy Letts adapts his own prize-winning play into a blistering depiction of one of cinema's most dysfunctional families ever. It's still rather theatrical, throwing a mob of top actors into a room for what feels like a fight to the death, but it's so well written and so beautifully observed by the actors that we can't look away. And of course Meryl Streep walks off with the show.

Everything kicks off when Beverly Weston (Shepard) goes missing, leaving his ruthlessly straight-talking, pill-popping wife Violet (Streep) to assemble the family in their rambling Oklahoma home. They have three equally feisty daughters: Barbara (Roberts) is a tightly wound bundle of anger with an estranged husband (McGregor) and surly teen daughter (Breslin) in tow; Karen (Lewis) is a free-spirited floater with yet another random boyfriend (Mulroney); and Ivy (Nicholson) is fed up with being the dutiful daughter who stayed close to home. Also on hand is Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Martindale), whose husband (Cooper) is the family patriarch now that Beverly is gone, which means their son (Cumberbatch) feels even more useless than normal.

What plot there is centres on skeletons rattling out of closets and relationships imploding spectacularly. The film is a series of brutally intense encounters between people who probably still love each other in vaguely undefined ways and express it through bitter bursts of witty cruelty. Streep has the meatiest role as the imperious Violet, who knows a lot more than she's letting on. And her chief rival is Barbara, played with unnerving intensity by Roberts. The only person we even remotely like is Mattie Fae, and the always-superb Martindale finds all kinds of layers in the character.

Letts' blackly funny script is so packed with pointed observations that director Wells' main job is to get out of the way, making sure the right person is in the centre of the screen so we know where to look. He also nicely reveals each relationship's pungent history, showing how the bitterness flows through generations. And amid the plot's rather scripted twists and turns, the raw truth is the most shocking thing of all. So it's hugely entertaining to just watch these people try to get through dinner. They may loathe each other, but after all is said and done, they're still family.

Watch 'August: Osage County' Trailer

Comments

August: Osage County Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: 15, 2013

Advertisement

More Meryl Streep

Katie Holmes Shimmered In Pale Pink At 'The Giver' NY Premiere - Part 3

The stars of 'The Giver' were snapped on the red carpet at the New York premiere of the movie at the Zeigfeld Theater. They were...

'The Giver' Stars Meryl Streep And Brenton Thwaites Spotted At The NY Premiere - Part 2

The cast of teen dystopia 'The Giver' make their arrivals at the New York premiere held at the Ziegfeld Theater. Among them were lead stars...

Mamma Mia, Sweeney Todd? Which Is The Best Musical Movie?

Disney is heading in a new direction with its Christmas film offering this year by producing its first theatrical adaptation of a Broadway musical, Into...

Who Is The Young Actor Brenton Thwaites?

An impressive cast of screen veterans, promising young newcomers, a multi-millions selling pop star and Katie Holmes have assembled for the dystopian sci-fi pic The...

Advertisement

The Giver: What Do We Need To Know?

American social science film, The Giver, was recently released on 15 August in the USA and is due to hit UK cinemas in the next...

Weinstein's 'The Giver' Relies on Experience of Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep

There were nervous, twitchy looks around the various Hollywood studios when Harvey Weinstein announced he was dipping his toe into the young-adult genre. That said,...

Let's Take A Sneak Peak 'Into The Woods'

Disney’s Christmas offering this year comes in the form of a bewitching fairy tale based on Stephen Sondheim’s award-winning musical, Into the Woods. Set in...

The Homesman Trailer

George Briggs is a claim jumper who has only ever known a dishonest life. When he finds himself in serious trouble (sat astride an impatient...

Advertisement