A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
Richard E. Grant
While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.
Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) has cancer and a propensity for pills and alcohol. She's a difficult woman to deal with and her husband has finally had enough. Violet's family gathers including youngest daughter Ivy, middle daughter Karen (with her new fiancé), eldest daughter Barbara (with her separated husband and teenage daughter), and her sister Mattie Fae (with her husband and son in tow). A family tragedy causes tensions to run high and secrets to come out. The Weston women will be forced to examine themselves and their lives whether they want to or not. Welcome to Osage County, Oklahoma in the sweltering heat of August. Written by
"Life is very long" --the opening line spoken by Sam Shepard's character Beverly Weston--is from T.S. Eliot's infamous "Hollow Men" poem, but it's a line borrowed from Joseph Conrad's novel "An Outcast of the Islands". The hollow emptiness of modern, Western life is a grand theme of this movie and its original stage play. Also, the name of the major female character, "Vi" for Violet, is very similar to the name of Eliot's wife, Vivienne. In addition, Sam Shepard--whose father was also a teacher and drinker like the Bev Weston he portrays--has long been a playwright documenting the demise of the American dream in works such as "True West". See more »
The sheriff's car bears an Oklahoma County license plate. Oklahoma county is about 2 1/2 hours away from Osage County. See more »
Life is very long. T.S. Elliot. Not the first person to say it, certainly not the first person to think it, but he's given credit for it because he bothered to write it down.
Now if you say it, you have to say his name after it. "Life is very long." T.S. Elliot. Absolutely goddamn right.
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Beats my family gatherings for verbal mud wrestling.
"My wife takes pills, and I drink. That's the bargain we've struck." Beverly Watson (Sam Shepherd)
Let the acting begin: As if the race had begun to determine the most disaffected member of the most dysfunctional family ever depicted on film, August: Osage County is the most violent film this year without a drop of visible blood.
In order to pull off this Eugene O'Neil-Tennessee Williamsl-Sam Shepherd-like dramatic version of Tracy Letts' play (Letts is the screenwriter as well), director John Wells needed to have an A-list cast; he does just that. In arguably the best acting of the year, Meryl Streep plays Violet Weston, the drug-addled schizophrenic matriarch of a family where dinners end up with broken plates and hearts. Although her performance is a tour de force (when are hers not?), the Oscar may elude her this time because her character is so unlikeable, and, well, she eats most of the available scenery.
Heading the rest of the cast is Julia Roberts as daughter Barbara Weston, a soon-to-be-divorced realist absorbing the punches of mom and Barbara's Pippi-Longstocking-chasing husband (Ewan McGregor) until she almost can't take it anymore. This is the best acting of Roberts' career.
As if the challenges were not enough for a Thanksgiving in any of our families, Juliann Nicholson's Ivy Watson is so vulnerable that she has fallen for first cousin, Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch), a liaison discouraged by the family rank and file, whose ethical button is pushed by such irregularity but never their alcoholism and verbal abuse buttons.
The ultra-emotional violence and the pervasive shouting may turn away some delicate-souled audience members, but for me a language lover, sparring at the dinner table is delightful out-of-control wit. Acerbic to be sure, but not dull.
Barbara encapsulates the horror of the family: "Thank God we can't tell the future, or we'd never get out of bed."
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