August: Osage County: Film Review

Hollywood is full of book and play adaptations. The latest addition to the list is – August: Osage County. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play by the same name (by Tracy Letts), this movie is a dark-comical-family drama. Narrating the story of an estranged family coming together during a crisis, the movie showcases the lives of the Weston family members.

August: Osage County opens with Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) hiring Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and housekeeper. Soon his missing brings together his entire family. His daughters come together to comfort their grieving mother, Violet Weston (Meryl Streep). Violet is suffering from oral cancer. Also her addiction to pills has turned her into a loud, stubborn and dysfunctional matriarch.

The eldest daughter, Barbara (Julia Roberts) comes along with her estranged husband, Bill (Ewan McGregor). The family is unaware about their separation. They are accompanied by their too-old-for-her-own-good 14 year-old daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin). The second daughter, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) who has never been married has a new beau. But doesn’t want to reveal details about the relationship to anyone. The youngest, Karen (Juliette Lewis) has her share of relationship baggage to handle. She comes along with her ‘latest’ fiance Steve (Dermot Mulroney). Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale), her husband Charles (Chris Cooper) and their son, Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) join the Weston family reunion. With the entire family together, tension escalating, the Weston home is no less than an insane asylum. Several dark secrets that have been under wraps for years are revealed, eventually causing the family to crumble.

Set in Oklahoma and the vast plains of the Prairie, the movie is a screen adaptation of a brilliant play. The title describes the time and location of the events that unfolds. Tracy Letts has done a creditable job, converting the play into a script. Director John Wells definitely understands how to create a film like August: Osage County that is all about acting. He respectably portrays the life of a dysfunctional family where every individual is at his/her wit’s end.

Meryl Streep as the high-on-pill-with-a-gut-filled-with-bitterness mother is a treat to watch. An honoured actress, she adds another jewel to her crown as Violet Weston. Julia Roberts as Barbara stands toe-to-toe with Meryl Streep. Yet another talented actress, Julia portrays her character with aplomb. The other cast is also in a good form and in sync with their characters.

August: Osage County is a bite into the darkly comic family drama that can be viewed as a visual psychotherapy session.

Why should you watch this film?

Lett’s script and Well’s direction fuelled with brilliant performances by the cast makes August: Osage County an exceptional and entertaining watch. Adapted from a play about a dysfunctional family, the madness of every character is beautifully-transformed into a wonderful piece of cinema.

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