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John Wells, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis at Essex House for August: Osage County. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Powerhouse performances by the Weston women of August: Osage County, Julia Roberts as Barbara, Julianne Nicholson as Ivy and Juliette Lewis as Karen circle around Meryl Streep as the matriarch, Violet Weston who has woven a large and dangerous web. The first time we see Violet, she comes down the stairs, cigarette in hand, as memorably as Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, though in an entirely different state of mind, dress, and posture. "My wife takes pills. I drink," is how Sam Shepard, who plays Violet's husband Beverly, sums up the main occupations of their lives. Nicholson's Ivy is the only one of their three daughters who still lives nearby.

In part one on director John Wells' chilling portrait of an American family, Meryl Streep said »

- Anne-Katrin Titze

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