August: Osage County – Film Review
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson
Director: John Wells
Synopsis: A family is brought together in a time of crisis and chaos and confrontations begin to ensue
Review: With a collection of wonderful actors all in one film, including three time Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts leading the cast, what could go wrong in this tale of a family get together? Well surprisingly, a lot can in this rather depressing tale of a family reunion, one that instead of giving you joy, saps all the happiness out of your soul.
Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tracy Letts, telling the story of the Westons and their extended family. Father Beverely disappears in an accident and in the resulting crisis, the family members gather together in a time of sadness. You would think this family would be unified in their sadness but the reality is far from it. Violet Weston (Streep) along with her three daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrive to help support their mother who is suffering from cancer and has a narcotics problem. The already gloomy intro of the film sets the benchmark as this family reunion quickly descends into verbal assault matches, intense squabbling and family fighting, and the complete breakdown of family relationships. It starts melancholic and just progressively gets worse.
Almost every character endures one moment in which they are brutally put down by another. Watching these characters fall apart in front of you just saps the joy and happiness out of your soul and replaces it with complete doom and misery. The films has one or two moments where you may think the doom and gloom is going to be lifted but it is short lived as the dreary and melancholic mood sets in once more and this feeling continues to hang around for a long time after the film has ended.
To the film’s credit, the acting is of a decent order. Meryl Streep has already sealed her place in the Hollywood Hall of Fame as an outstanding actress. Streep is an actress who could look in a mirror and would get an Oscar nomination. Nevertheless, she does a brilliant job of bringing this emotionally damaged character to life. There are some humorous moments with her character when she puts her daughters down, but these are few and far between. Julia Roberts is another who gives a strong performance as the strong willed daughter of Streep’s character. She is not afraid to stand up to her bossy mother and she pulls it off well. Both Streep and Roberts have landed Oscar nominations for their roles and they are both well deserved.
Two strong performances from the leading ladies however, do not save the film from the melancholic and depressing tale that it is. The rest of the cast were very indifferent, including an unusually subdued performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. It is sad to watch as this family tears itself apart in the face of adversity and it just sucks all and any of the happiness and joy out of you. It’s just a sad and depressing tale of family misfortune, and squabbling and one that you would hope does not happen within your own family.