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Film Review: August: Osage County

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Adapted from Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, August: Osage County tells the story of a dysfunctional family led by mama Violet Weston (Meryl Streep), a pill popping, drug-addicted, mouth cancer ridden matriarch who is just as mean as she is sharp-witted.

Her three daughters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis), return to their childhood home in Osage County, Oklahoma, when their alcoholic father Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing and old grudges and secrets are revealed. And oh boy do they escalate.

John Wells directs the movie well and the enormous cast delivers solid performances, but the film is ultimately a slightly soapy, over the top melodrama. This is not to say that it’s not entertaining; defining it as a well made but nevertheless guilty pleasure seems fitting. Two particular scenes, which evolve around Violet and Barbara going at each other, are the most fun to watch. Roberts and Streep really physically fighting on screen is a highly entertaining sight to behold.

At this point it’s clear that Meryl Streep will be lauded for anything she’s in but in this film she seems to chew the scenery and is over the top as Violet. The three standout performances are delivered from Margo Martindale who plays Violet’s loyal and warm sister Mattie-Fae, Julia Roberts (who award categories be damned, is certainly a lead and not a supporting character), shedding her America’s sweetheart image and embodying an unglamorous and embittered woman who is walking in her mother’s unattractive footsteps, and Julianne Nicholson as the middle Weston sister, the sanest and most humble of them all.

August: Osage County is released in the UK on 24th January 2014.




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