By Matt Mungle
Title: August: Osage County
Stop me if you have heard this before. Three Oscar winners walk into a film… Normally that doesn’t mean much, but when you factor in the writing and directing of August: Osage County, you get a one of a kind experience that is near perfect. This adult film will be talked about much during the award season, and it will be interesting to see how the voting goes.
Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) is the matriarch of a highly dysfunctional family. They rarely speak, and when they do, it is at high volume. When a crisis occurs, the siblings all converge to Oklahoma and the house they grew up in. What happens then will make you smile, laugh, cringe, and at times shake your head at how familiar it all feels. Barbara (Julia Roberts) is also dealing with a rough marriage and her husband (Ewan McGregor) and daughter (Abigail Breslin) aren’t helping the situation. With drama abounding, it will be a gathering that they hope they all survive.
The cast in this is superb. Along with aforementioned stars add Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, and Benedict Cumberbatch to the batch. They all bring their a-game and with a script as solid as this one it only makes sense that what you get is a fantastic film. Even though it is a volatile film at times, it also has a warm family heartbeat. You can’t help but sense that the anger and passion come out of a love and desire to see their loved ones make better choices. The frustration that comes out is understandable and many times familiar.
Because of the strong emphasis on dialogue and character interaction, this film has a strong stage feel to it. As the actors move across the set, you could easily imagine this as a live production. Also the look and feel of the Oklahoma plains give this a simple stripped down look. It is this ability to pull back everything but the characters make you totally engage with what is happening and the script comes to life.
August: Osage County is rated R for language including sexual references, and for drug material. This is a very adult film in the themes and language, which is the only drawback to the film. The language will make it awkward at times to watch with older parents or certain siblings. It is a marvelous piece of work, and even with the few flaws, I give it 4.5 out of 5 dinner tables. It is one to see for those who follow the award season and love acting at expert levels.
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