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10/10
a sick bunch gathers to mourn a family member
blanche-218 November 2013
"August: Osage County" is a stunning, powerful play written by Tracy Letts - it rocked Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize. And it's going to rock a movie theater near you. This isn't a movie for everyone. It's exhausting, it's full of really despicable people, and it's mighty depressing. But the acting is so terrific, the roles so strong, that you don't want to miss it.

It's the story of the Weston family: Violet, a drug-addicted cancer patient (Meryl Streep); her husband Beverley, a well-known poet (Sam Shepard); their daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis), and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson); Violet's sister Minnie Fae Aiken (Margo Martindale), her husband Charles (Chris Cooper), and their son, known as Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch).

When Beverley commits suicide, the family gathers and it's wretched from the beginning. Violet is totally drugged, Barbara and her husband (Ewan McGregor) are in the process of breaking up, Ivy has a secret boyfriend and, though she stayed behind and has been caring for her mother, she's ready to leave for New York, and Karen arrives with her fiancée (Dermot Mulroney) who has been married three times and seems a little too interested in Barbara's 14-year-old daughter. When Little Charles arrives on a later bus than he was supposed to take, his mother belittles him in front of everyone. Little Charles is considered a not so little loser, and is the only likable one in the film.

Each daughter has reacted differently to having parents like Violet and Beverley. Barbara is hard and tough like her mother, Ivy keeps her feelings and desires to herself, and Karen is a dingbat looking for love, probably in all the wrong places. The Aiken dynamic - obviously Violet and Minnie were forced to grow up to be as tough and mean as possible in order to survive; Charles is quiet with a fury underneath, and Little Charles looks like he's going to break in two any minute. He shares the same secret as Ivy: they're in love and planning to go away together.

This is a grueling story of the destructive force of addiction, the danger of anger, the hurt of betrayal, and the pain caused by keeping secrets.

I was not fortunate enough to see the Broadway play so I can't compare the performances. I thought Meryl Streep was terrific - it's the kind of role actresses love, a sort of Martha in Virgina Woolf gone completely haywire, and except for Helen Mirren and Judy Dench, there's no one better to tackle it than Streep. Julia Roberts gives what is probably her best performance. She's not a favorite of mine, and I don't find her a particularly good actress, but she almost pulls this off, probably because of the talent surrounding her. Margo Martindale as the caustic and bitter Minnie, who reminds her niece that she's not just her "fat old aunt" is sensational. Violet, Barbara and Minnie have the showiest roles.

In the male roles, Sam Shepard, though his role is small, is elegant and sympathetic, and Chris Cooper doesn't have much to do until a showdown with Minnie, which is galvanizing. And Benedict Cumberbatch - what can I say - I adore the man. He's a nasty villain in Star Trek and here, an insecure young man who hates himself for his tardiness and inability to keep a job. He's heartbreaking. He can do anything and he proves it here as he sings -- yes, sings! -- to Ivy.

Your family, no matter the problems, will look like Leave it to Beaver after you see this film. See it - enjoy the fabulous acting and be grateful that you're not going home to anything like it. I hope.
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Beats my family gatherings for verbal mud wrestling.
jdesando9 January 2014
"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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10/10
Intense Film
mjcr9319 November 2013
This film was amazing. The cast, director, and cinematographer are top notch. It will surely be nominated for several Oscars. I had a chance to view it during a Film Festival and was excited that I got a ticket to this sold out showing. But then, halfway through the movie, I nearly walked out.

The outrageous, violent, destructive behavior of the characters and between the characters hit a little too close to home for my comfort. For those who think the actions of the characters seem over the top, let me assure you they are not. When you mix addiction, lies, and a lifetime of pain, you get exactly this type of toxic concoction.

I required multiple tissues to get me through to the end, but ultimately I stayed (as a film lover, I could not bring myself to walk out of such a wonderfully crafted movie). I'm glad I did.
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The fierce performances and characters engage in the moment, even if the overall narrative is lacking
bob the moo7 February 2014
I've never seen the play on which this film is based so in a way it was good to come to this film really knowing nothing more than "people are saying this is good so maybe I should go see it". The plot sees a deeply dysfunctional family of strong-willed and vitriolic women coming back together in the wake of a family tragedy. Resentment, past hurts, bitterness and vitriol are the underlying themes as the family sits around the dinner table. I shan't say too much more than that – not because the plot is best left unknown (although it is) but more because there really isn't too much more actual plot to worry about and instead the film is more about the characters and a study of the family.

In some ways this is a bad thing and it does make the film feel long and rather lacking in a narrative drive. I can understand why many have found it dull and low on direction and focus but for me personally I thought that the strength brought about by this approach was just about enough to overcome the weaknesses inherent in it. That strength is simply in the way that it takes a very talented group of actresses, puts them together and gives them some really strong scenes to get their teeth into. Additionally, and I don't mean to be rude, but this group is of an age which Hollywood casting agents generally starts forgetting exists due to their age. As a result of this the film almost always engages in the moment or in any specific scene as we see instantly recognizable characters lash out at each other, playing out old patterns of hurt in a way that we are able to recognize them as "old patterns" even though we as viewers are here for the first time. So as a collection of scenes, the film is almost always working well – it is just when it has to come together that it doesn't do quite as well.

Despite this it is great to watch the cast go at it. Streep is great as usual and is utterly convincing as someone so engrained in patterns of behavior and carrying so much pain in her that it has affected everything – OK the cancer and the "eating pain" stuff may make it a bit too obvious, but even still she is good at what she has to do. Roberts is not quite on that level here but is still very strong while Nicholson and Lewis do well with big supporting characters. Martindale may not be as big a name (or role) but those that watch Justified already know she has presence and she holds her own here really well. The male cast are very much second fiddle but there are still good turns throughout from Cooper, Shepard, Cumberbatch, Mulroney and McGregor. The risk is that the cast feels too heavy with stars, but they are all so convincing that once they had been on screen for a little, I was more focused on the character than the career.

August Osage County is one of many films getting hyped up around the awards period and as with many films it is not as perfectly brilliant as you'll be told it is. The narrative does move but the film always seems happiest when it is just sitting and letting the family be themselves and as a result it does move slowly and perhaps the story lacks real impact. However, just as the film is happy, so are the cast and the strong individual scenes give plenty for the cast to work with, and they return the favor with a really strong ensemble feel that is engaging and convincingly laced with hurt and anger – and it is this that makes the film strong and worth a look.
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10/10
Gobsmackingly good
reknob26 January 2014
This is an exceptionally challenging film and most won't be able to stay with it as it hurtles, repeatedly, from hysterical comedy to blackest tragedy in almost the same breath - the term "tragicomedy" never fit a film so well ...

There are some stupendous performances here, Meryl Streep in particular but Roberts is outstanding too amongst a superb ensemble cast - the script is firecrackingly terrific and the (less is more when you've got this much going on ...) direction is perfect too ...

You know something? I'm a 48 year old guy with way over a thousand films under my belt and this may well creep into my all-time top 10, it's that good ...

10
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9/10
Delightful Dysfunction "August: Osage County"
peibeck17 November 2013
Though nearly 40 minutes of Tracy Lett's Pulitzer Prize winning dramedy have been shaved for the screen version, "August: Osage County" still manages to deliver on the towering play's hearty laughs, gasp inducing shocks, and well earned tears.

While it is hardly the best adaptation of a play to a film, as much of the film still retains it's indoor, staging setting, it is boosted by some sterling performances of actors at the top of their craft. Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale are stellar, playing off each other with deft and precise timing. Julia Roberts has not had this good of a role in... ever, and she mostly delivers. Julianne Nicholson is both quiet yet fiercely determined as middle daughter Ivy. Sam Sheppard is amazing in the even more truncated role of the Weston family patriarch who goes missing, and Misty Upham is so good with so little to say as the young Indian woman, Johnna, tossed into a family in turmoil.

Of course the turmoil is led by the Medea-of-the-Midwest, Violet, played for every ounce by Meryl Streep in one of her most indelible performances ever. While viewers will surely be talking about the "infamous" post funeral dinner scene, the price of admission should be had for Streep's monologue late into the "second act," where she sits with her daughters on a swing set and discusses the worst Christmas ever: an acting class with the full gamut of emotion.

Viewers may be equally divided by spending 130 minutes with such unhappy people, but there are plenty of dark laughs in Letts' screenplay to alleviate the tension. And with actors these good interpreting the parts, "August: Osage County" is easier to swallow than some awkward family dinners we've all had to attend at some point in our lives.
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What did we do to deserve these people?
The_Film_Cricket19 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
August: Osage County is a miserable experience. For all it's incredible acting talent, what has been given to them is a family drama about people so petty and hateful that sitting at their dinner table is like being on a bus with a bunch of mean drunks. Trailers for this movie would have you assume that this is a movie about a family that learns the meaning of bonding. It's not. This is a movie about a lot of spiteful, hateful, bull-headed, mean-spirited people who spend their time together throwing mean, hurtful insults at one another like a family reunion edition of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Based on the Pulizer Prize Winning play by Tracy Letts (who also penned the screenplay) - August: Osage County works through the playbooks of Eugene O'Neill, Anton Chekov, Thorton Wilder and Edwin Albee, imitating their works but, not honoring them. Letts replaces human feeling with cuss fights, and we're left at the dinner table with people we with would just go away.

The story takes place in the far-flung, sun-baked landscape of Oklahoma, where we meet a long-married couple Violet and Beverly Weston whose connective marital tissue is that they enjoy hating one another. Beverly (Sam Shepard) is a poet who has a loving relationship with his booze. Violet (Meryl Streep) is suffering from mouth cancer and is taking so many prescription drugs that she's become an addict. We sympathize because of her condition but, in truth, Violet is a vile, bitter woman whose entire vocabulary is made up of acid-tinged insults that she happily flings at anyone in her hemisphere – the fact that she has mouth cancer is both literal and a metaphor.

Beverly goes out on his boat one day, but doesn't come back alive – some say accident, other say suicide. Upon his death, a flock of relatives descend on the Weston home, including Violet and Beverly's three daughters: Barbara (Julia Roberts) who is just as bitter as her mother; Ivey (Julianne Nicholson) who is solemn and quiet most of the time; and Karen (Juliette Lewis), a giddy chatterbox who is forever bragging about her honeymoon. Also around are Beverly's brother Charles (Chris Cooper), Violet's sister Fanny (Margo Martindale), their son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch); Barbara's cheating husband Bill (Ewan McGregor), and his 14 year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Take a good look at the talent involved here and consider that much of the movie has these people either shouting or hitting one another. Worse is that they are so predictable that you start counting the minutes until someone throws a dinner plate.

There are a lot of personal problems among this family; grudges, dormant feuds and petty arguments that come to light as this family gathers. Somewhere you might have reason to expect some measure of understanding. You expect some resolution, but it never comes. After the funeral, the family gathers at Violet's dinner table for a long scene that is so unpleasant that you want to put your fingers in your ears. Violet seats herself at the head of the table and begins an argument with Barbara so hate-filled and angry that we're not surprised when it ends with the two of them in a violent confrontation on the living room floor. The rest of the family is no better. Over the next few days, they take the opportunity to air their dirty laundry, so we get horrifying revelations of mistaken paternity, pedophilia, infidelity and even incest.

It is never a requirement that all movie characters must be likable, but there must be some emotional foothold for the audience. What did we do to deserve these people? While it's true that the familial bitterness is generational (the movie makes the abundantly clear) shouldn't there be someone with the sense to put it to an end? The family grudges and fights send the family members scattering back to their respective lives, leaving only Violet and Barbara. Both are husbandless and have the potential to find comfort in one another. But, it never happens. By the end, the one character we have come to sympathize with is Beverly. He has opted out of the family sickness and, much to our surprise, we kind of understand why.

*1/2 (of four)
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8/10
"August: Osage County" is the best ensemble of the year!
Clayton Davis4 October 2013
Before I even start to talk about John Wells' new film "August: Osage County," I have to say I've never seen the stage play or read it by writer Tracy Letts. Following the screening, I felt it was important to disclose. An all-star cast is assembled, all which have individual moments to shine, which is surprising with a cast this size, and for the most part, the film succeeds on multiple levels. Sure to be divisive, "August: Osage County" is tenacious and beautifully constructed. Soulful and unafraid to show the gritty and ugly of the American family, Wells' film is utterly compelling. A must-see for the awards season. An instant Oscar contender.

From the top to the bottom, this film exists and succeeds by its performances. At the top of the heap and best in show is the stunning and beautiful Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts. Her turn as Barbara Weston is in the top three performances she's ever delivered. Roberts dives into herself in a way we haven't seen since "Erin Brockovich." The narrative fully turns on her character and in the final half of the film, she pulls the train through to the station. I'm incredibly impressed with her work. Roberts is a revelation and reminds the world how good she really is. A sure-fire Oscar contender.

As Violet Weston, a role played by Deanna Dunagan on Broadway, there were high expectations to see what 3-time Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep would bring to the role. For the past few years, I've begged for Streep to "dirty it up" and play a role like this. A drug-addicted matriarch who a gutter mouth lets Streep give a fresh take on a character. Her performance is middle of the road for what Streep has delivered in her career. That can mean different things to different people. Middle of the road for Streep could be the best of any actor. I walked out of the theater feeling the same way I felt following the end credits of "Doubt." Streep excels in many areas of acting, but I feel when it comes to stage adaptations to the big screen, Streep doesn't live in the character as comfortably as she would in any other role. There are times that the role does go a bit over-the-top. That being said, Streep is still plenty great as she's been in other roles as of late. She inhabits lots of Violet's beats and mannerisms and gives dynamite exchange with some of her co-stars. It's a performance that will surely land her another Best Actress nomination.

Trying to pick any of the supporting characters to single out is like trying to pick your favorite child. Margo Martindale as Mattie Fae is ballsy and spunky and its good to see an actor of her caliber finally getting a chance to rip into a role like this. Her character reveals the film's darkest secret which gives her an edge over some of her co- stars, which Wells directs masterfully with DP Adriano Goldman.

I could eat Benedict Cumberbatch up with a spoon. As "Little Charles," he definitely has the narrative's most sympathetic story but more importantly, in a film that is full of despicable people, he manages to pull the audience in to root for him, even when you know he's doing something terribly wrong.

I've longed for Juliette Lewis to get back in Oscar's graces following her nomination over twenty years ago in Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear." She as dynamic as we've seen her in the last few years, delivering her best turn yet as Karen. A true professional. Ewan McGregor continues to elevate himself as one of our finest actors working today as Bill, Barbara's estranged husband. As someone who is on the opposite side of the rational spectrum when compared the Weston ladies, McGregor stands out as a positive take. Unfortunately, he only gets one scene to really let loose in a memorable manner.

I can recall being floored by the work of Julianne Nicholson in the little indie that no one saw, "Flannel Pajamas" nearly seven years ago. I've never fully revisited her work since despite stints on "Conviction" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." As Ivy, the one sister that stayed behind, Nicholson embraces her natural and simplistic mannerisms that give her role a much-needed arc in the narrative. In a perfect world, we would be looking at Julianne Nicholson for serious Oscar consideration.

Brief but all too clear as perfection, Sam Shepard ignites his brief screen time as Beverly Weston, the patriarch of our family. Same could be said for Misty Upham as Johnna, our Native American housekeeper sitting as a silent observer.

Academy Award winner Chris Cooper shines when he takes on sensitive and accessible performances. With a tough exterior but a soft and loving emotional center, Cooper acts as an sentimental pillar to our tale. If there is room for a man in an Oscar lineup from a film dominated by women, he is likely it.

Director John Wells has a strong hold on the material. He understands where he wants the narrative to go, putting an emphasis on the story and letting any directorial styles take a backseat. It's definitely appreciated in a story that has so many moving parts. Writer Tracy Letts adapts his own play and in the second half really stretches out his legs as the story takes shape for certain characters. The first thirty minutes are rough. The dialogue isn't as quick as snapping your finger. Some monologues run a little long and there are a pair of instances where I checked out of the story for a moment.

The Weinstein Company have quite a gem on their hands. Lots of heart and laughs, "August: Osage County" has the year's best cast ensembles and is one of the year's best films.

Read More of the Review @ (http://www.awardscircuit.com)
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2/10
Fine acting. Script is trash.
bighebeal5 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In the late 19th century a common playwriting trope was to build a play to moments of tremendous intensity where the star would astonish the audience with the brilliance of his or her acting. The plays had no real purpose other than to provide those moments; there was no dramatic core, no purpose to them other than that. Those kinds of plays, like "The Count of Monte Cristo", which O'Neill skewers in "Long Day's Journey Into Night", are dismissed today as tripe, as dated and manipulative nonsense.

"August: Osage County" is exactly that, only modern and written for an ensemble cast rather than for a single star. Sure, the acting is very good, but so what? Who cares? Where's the story? What's the point? Why are we spending time with these people?

Understand, my complaint is not that "August: Osage County" is depressing, it's that it's cheap. Many fine movies are miserably depressing, but they're honest, they're driven by something other than a desire to create 'actory' moments; "The Swimmer" comes to mind, as does "The Night Porter", and "Enemies: A Love Story", and "The Bicycle Thief", and "Ikiru"... This thing, on the other hand... it feels like Tracy Letts just piled misery upon misery upon misery for no reason other than his belief that that gets you taken seriously. And considering the awards the play received, he was right, which hardly speaks well for the state of dramatic criticism.

At one point (spoiler ahead), after he's already been larding the suffering on with a trowel for quite a while, there's a death scene -- and while watching it I just couldn't help myself, I laughed out loud.

Seriously, what is the point of this? In playwriting class, the first principle they teach is that "drama is the day the change occurred". In other words, if there is no chance of change, if the characters (at least the protagonist) are not wrestling with an inner conflict that could resolve itself several ways, then there is no drama. That's the case with "August: Osage County". You might as well be watching a B-Western for all the real depth there is to the characters. Each time you're introduced to a character (with one or two very minor exceptions) you know exactly who they are now and exactly who they'll be at the end of the movie. It's just 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'.

In a word, trash.
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3/10
Why does anyone like this?
ixtar127 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, the acting, top to bottom, is flawless, but to what end? Although it's being advertised as comedy it's drearily unfunny. It's creepily like watching a look-at-the-rubes in Oklahoma, freak show. A miserable collection of mean, addicted, distraught, and depressed family, which as individuals, might be believable, but as a group is preposterous. You wouldn't want to spend five minutes with any of them, let alone two hours. And, no, it has nothing to say about addiction or family. It seems to have little to say about anything except that the people on screen can't stand to be with each other any longer than they have to, and after this they won't see each other again. Lots of fun for the cast, and maybe even an Oscar or two, hopefully at least a nomination for Julianne Nicholson. No fun at all for the audience. This won a Pulitzer and Tonys? I can't understand what anyone sees in this piece of A list dreck.
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6/10
Eat your Fish
David Ferguson12 January 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. Tracy Letts had a very nice year in 2008. He won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for writing the play August: Osage County. Since then, he has also written the play and screenplay for Killer Joe, and been seen as an actor in the key role of a Senator in the TV show "Homeland". This time out, he adapts his own play for director John Wells' (The Company Men, TV's "ER") screen version of August: Osage County.

With an ensemble cast matched by very few movies over the years, the screen version begins with what may be its best scene. Weston family patriarch and published poet Beverly (the always great Sam Shepard) is interviewing Johnna for a position as cook and housekeeper when they are interrupted in stunning fashion by Violet (Meryl Streep), Beverly's acid-tongued wife who is showing the effects of chemotherapy and her prescription drug addiction. This extraordinary pre-credits scene sets the stage for the entire movie, which unfortunately only approaches this high standard a couple more times.

Despite the film's flaws, there is no denying the "train-wreck" effect of not being able to look away from this most dysfunctional family. Most of this is due to the screen presence of a steady stream of talented actors: in addition to Streep and Shephard, we get their 3 daughters played by Julia Roberts (Barbara), Julianne Nicholson (Ivy) and Juliette Lewis (Karen); Ewan McGregor and Abigail Breslin as Roberts' husband and daughter; Margo Martindale (Violet's sister), her husband Chris Cooper (Charles) and their son Benedict Cumberbatch.

As with most dysfunctional family movies, there is a dinner table scene ... this one occurring after a funeral. The resentment and regret and anger on display over casseroles is staggering, especially the incisive and "truth-telling" Violet comments and the defensive replies from Barbara. As time goes on, family secrets and stories unfold culminating in a whopper near the end. This is really the polar opposite of a family support system.

Meryl Streep's performance is one of the most demonstrative of her career. Some may call it over the top, but I believe it's essential to the tone of the movie and the family interactions. Her exchanges with Julia Roberts define the monster mother and daughter in her image theme. They don't nitpick each other, it's more like inflicting gaping wounds. Surprisingly, Roberts mostly holds her own ... though that could be that the film borders on campy much of the time. Streep's scene comes as she recalls the most horrific childhood Christmas story you could ever want to hear.

It must be noted that Margo Martindale is the real highlight here. She has two extraordinary scenes ... each very different in style and substance ... and she nails them both. Without her character and talent, this film could have spun off into a major mess. The same could be said for Chris Cooper, who is really the moral center of the family. While the others seem intent on hiding from their past, he seems to make the best of his situation.

The film never really captures the conflicting environments of the old Weston homestead and the wide open plains of Oklahoma. The exception is a pretty cool post-funeral scene in a hayfield where Roberts tells Streep "There's no place to go". The main difference between the film version and stage version is the compressed time and the decision to include all explosive scenes. There is just little breathing room here. Still, it's one of the more entertaining and wild dysfunctional comedy-dramas that you will see on screen, and it's quite obvious this group of fine actors thoroughly enjoyed the ensemble experience.
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7/10
Excellent Ensemble Acting Showcase
3xHCCH10 January 2014
"August: Osage County" was adapted by its own playwright Terry Letts into a screenplay. I have not seen the play yet, but am looking forward to seeing one in a few months from now. The standard set by the ensemble of actors in this film will be so hard to top.

This play is set in an Oklahoma town on one warm summer. Violet Wetson (Meryl Streep) reunites with her three willful daughters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) when there was a death in the family. Fireworks fly when family secrets are revealed as mother and daughters clash.

Meryl Streep is again in top form here as a dysfunctional wife and mother made worse by her dependency on drugs given for her cancer. This role has Oscar written all over it, and Ms. Streep again grabs this bull by the horns. She is one scary virago here, one you would not want to meet in real life. To even imagine someone like her to be your mother is unthinkable.

Julia Roberts plays the eldest daughter Barbara with restraint until that post-funeral lunch when her top blows up and all hell breaks loose. We see a mature and gritty Julia here, going full circle from her first Oscar nomination with another family-oriented play turned film "Steel Magnolias." Ewan McGregor plays her husband Bill who loves her but can't stand her. Abigail Breslin plays her 14-year old daughter Jean, who is trying to grow up faster than she should.

Juliette Lewis plays another quirky and flighty character here. It seems only these types of roles fit her unusually unique face. Her Karen brings home a much-older fiancé Steve (Dermot Mulroney) with fast sports car and stash of pot.

Julianne Nicholson plays the daughter who stayed home to take care of her parents, Ivy. It seems she has been around for a long time, but this is the first film that I have taken notice of her. Her character has secret dreams and desires that could not take off because she is trapped in her situation in life, and Nicholson portrays that pain and frustration very well.

We will also meet Violet's fussy and nosy sister Mattie Fay, played by Margo Martindale. Her husband Charles is played by Chris Cooper, who is quietly dignified through most the film, until he had his own confrontation scene with his wife. Their son shy and insecure "Little" Charles is sensitively played by Benjamin Cumberbatch. This 2013 has really been a big debut year for Cumberbatch with diverse roles in big films like "Star Trek In Darkness", "12 Years a Slave", now this one.

This may not be for all because of the depressing family squabbling going on for two hours. However, I thought the dialogues were really darkly witty in their bitterness and spite. The main reason to watch this film though would be the masterclass in ensemble acting. Seeing all these actors interact together enhancing each other's performances is the big positive in watching a film like this.
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1/10
Sam Shepard was the lucky one.......
kitchent10 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
First let me give the positive things about this film:

The direction was great, and the editing was fluid with scenes allowed to play themselves out instead of hacked up like chopped meat. There were no quick cuts to annoy the hell out of me, and this film was shot beautifully.

The acting was first rate (as you can imagine with this cast), and I thought Julia Roberts especially was spot on. Meryl Streep got on my nerves, but I'm not sure it was her or the fact that her character was as hateful a character as you can imagine.

Now the problems for me. By the 30 minute mark, I was over it. I could identify with no one in the film, nor did I care about any of the characters.

At the 60 minute mark I was pretty sure that Sam Shepard was the smartest person in the film by drowning himself within the first 10 minutes. With envy I longed for the sweet death of sucking water into my lungs and never hearing this bickering, awful family again.

By the 90 minute mark I was convinced that these were some of the most vile, hideous creatures on the face of the earth. They had no redeeming qualities at all. All I could think of was the line from Aliens, "Nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

By the 121 minute mark, I was grateful it was over. Meryl was alone in the house, Julia had left, and we had no resolution to a story we had suffered through for two hours.

I'm not opposed to dark films. I'm not opposed to sad films. I'm not opposed to films that try to qualify and explain the human condition. But what I am opposed to is a film that makes no effort to be ENTERTAINING.

August: Osage County is a film that doesn't give a crap if the audience is entertained. It's too busy showing how smart and edgy it is.
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2/10
Excruciating!
Heidi Standell10 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I really wanted to like this film. The premise, the actors, the fact that it centers on a family of real grown ups (not 50 somethings playing 30 somethings with teenagers who are 20 somethings). I was looking forward to watching an American film in which the actors play their ages (it seems of late that when an American movie requires grandparents who actually look like grandparents and NOT the evil browed botox caricatures Hollywood passes off as grandparents they have to fly in British actors whose attempts at American accents sounds as if they have a flute up their nose) and WHAT ACTORS: Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor et al. From the promos it seemed the film would deal with real issues. Well, this film does have issues, all right. Buckets, wheelbarrows, truckloads of issues. There were so many issues I thought I had gotten lost on Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road, but without the realism -- this was the same white trash but living in a bigger house, and had they been living in a hovel this film would have been attacked as classist in the extreme. Incest (suggested), infidelity, addiction, alcoholism, racism, manipulation, bullying, greed, lying, stealing. It was so hard to find any redeeming quality in any of the characters that it was hard deciding who to hate or who to blame. The mom, Meryl Streep, might make a good scapegoat/punching bag for all the family's problems, but her ho of a sister (or sister in law, I forget and who cares) is no better, and neither are her kids. They go on and on and on and on about their junkie mom but have they ever really tried to help her? And moan about their poor, poor dad, the drunk, as if the fact that he doesn't need a prescription filled to get his mojo and no one in the family ever brings his scotch consumption up since he's such a great guy because he's never been to rehab makes him some kind of saint for sticking by his pill popping wife! One of the daughters wants to marry her cousin, which is creepy enough but when she finds out from her mom that he is her half brother (without the mom knowing she had the hots for him in the first place) she blames the mother for, for, for, WHAT EXACTLY? For never telling them their dear old dad was such a dog and was for years screwing their nice Aunt Mattie? The daughters all play "who's the bigger martyr" although they really don't seem to give a damn about anyone but themselves. Even when Julia Roberts has had enough at a family dinner, freaks out at her mom then flushes all her mom's pills down the toilet, exactly who is she doing this for? If her mother's pill addiction is as bad as they make out, wouldn't abruptly stopping the pills put her into intensive care? There really was no one in the film that was worth caring about, or rooting for, or even mourning. In terms of acting, well, it would be impossible to not over-act with such scenarios and such a script, and the actors in this film do not let us down in that regard. The mom's ability to talk non stop for 20 minute intervals without taking a breath while suffering from MOUTH CANCER(!!) and puffing a cigarette at the same time is admirable, and reminds me somewhat of King Lear's hefty dramatic monologues but with a lot of smoke. So if you want to see one of modern cinema's greatest actors (Streep) pull that off, I suppose it's worth the price of admission. And even though he was a lying philandering drunk, ultimately the dad really isn't so bad. He had the sense to off himself at the start of the film, which I was itching to do to myself half way through!
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3/10
Painful to watch
megdodge11 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I will begin by saying I had high expectations for this movie—who wouldn't with such an incredible cast? But, as sometimes happens when a gaggle of acclaimed actors convene for an Oscar-destined drama, it was incredibly unpleasant.

Centered on a dysfunctional family in the boondocks of Oklahoma, August: Osage County cannot be faulted for lack of honesty. The plot piles on heap after heap of horrific familial revelations, everything from a sister and brother engaging in an incestuous relationship to a fourteen-year-old smoking pot with and kissing a 50-year-old man who also happens to be her aunt's fiancé.

Nearly every character, especially those of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, is extremely unlikable, selfish, and antagonistic; the post-funeral dinner scene in which Meryl Streep's character systematically offends and curses at each member of the family is so unsettling and drawn out that I had to leave the room mid-way through. Every family has at least one member with a similarly over-dramatic and aggressive personality and many families have equally sad and unfortunate problems, so in that respect August: Osage County is a fair and candid representation of family life.

But with that being said, the sheer number of conflicts presented is gratuitous. It makes a mockery of the hardships real families face every day, sensationalizing them to the same caliber as the Jerry Springer Show. Every fight, every divulgement of secrets is so exaggerated that I could not keep myself from laughing at the outrageousness—Julia Roberts' inane cursing rant about fish had me alternating between incredulous laughing and appalled discomfort.

Of course, the acting is phenomenal on all counts (how else did I come to despise the characters so vividly?), but quality acting can only carry a film so far. The plot, the story of a disturbed family of narcissistic, morally unsound people leaves so much to be desired. I am thoroughly unsatisfied, a little frustrated, and so grateful that my family is not like that.
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10/10
Fantastic acting, work of art.
scott1-912-25200325 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Art isn't always pleasant. Especially when you are looking at pure reality directly in the face of addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, and divorce. Some reviewers have complained that they thought the acting was good, but the story unpleasant. They didn't enjoy the story because of how awful the characters were, and subject matter as depressing. Well, this is what makes the film, and the character's dialog is absolutely ingenious. The first child (Julia Roberts) has a lot of pieces to pick up, and then she has to shatter them. She is the "adult" who can't stomach her mother's drug addiction, and left because of her father's alcoholism. But she returns to try and be a parent to her mother and younger siblings when her father goes missing. This all falls apart. Not because of her inabilities, but because everyone is so far dysfunctional, her efforts are in vain. Meanwhile, she has her own miserable divorce happening, along with her own child who reeks of indifference toward her. Meryl Streep is a master actress, who plays the drug addict beautifully. She is the destroyer of the family and herself, but she was raised by a real bitch of a mother in a really terrible childhood. Her husband, Sam Shepard is a cheating alcoholic who spent his early childhood years living in a car with his homeless family. Both parents are wise people, but suffer the demons of their youth. They carry this pain into addiction and coldness, which shattered their kids. The eldest daughter is the "parent". The middle daughter is a quiet mess loner, and the youngest daughter a clingy, vain woman who talks too much and gold digs to escape, no matter how terrible the fiancé' turns out to be. The absolute best part of this film is the family funeral dinner. These actors must have either rehearsed for a year, or improvised the entire scene. Either way, it was the best piece of team acting I've seen, ever. The dialog in this film was very intelligent and meaningful. I really identified with the Julia Roberts character's open thoughts about the world. Actually, I also could relate to the father and his brother in law, which is very rare for me. Most movies out of Hollywood are just too damned liberally tainted, with cliché' references to "Paris" and politically correctness. This movie did "Belize" and the argument about political correctness was realistic as hell. I really liked that Hollyweird did something right for once. In one particular scene, the aunt asks her husband to feel her sweaty back. They are playing around and that is really a director's gem in this film. It was funny and I also loved the interaction over who was drinking in the living room. The writer and director really had a grasp on real situational family dynamics. The Ferrari was hilarious and a nice touch. Lots of dark situational humor. I recommend this film to those who will understand the reason for it to exist, and for that you have to have a brain, or have been in a family situation which dealt with addiction. Remember that you are in the audience, not in the room with them, so you can take yourself out of that emotion if you want. If you decide you don't like the people/characters, you can still respect them, the acting, the situation, the masterful plot, and dynamics of the dialog. I gave this film a 10 because of the acting, humor, and realism.
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6/10
Technicially Great But Depressing
therunner428 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
August: Osage County had chick flick written all over it and I couldn't wait to see it. Technically I suppose it was very good. It tells the story of the Weston family and the aftermath of their father's suicide. Meryl Streep is very good in her completely unlikeable character of Violet Weston who emotionally abuses her own family. Julia Roberts is also very good as daughter Barbara alongside Dermot Mulroney who plays the potential new brother in law and is surprise surprise a real jerk. There are some great actors in smaller roles such as Misty Upham as the family's cook. It has all of the right ingredients but I was disappointed. Nothing goes right for this family and it is draining watching their life fall apart. Nothing is resolved either. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret seeing it but I probably won't remember it either. There are better films around at the moment.
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4/10
This movie will help you appreciate your family
Jason M. Rothman14 January 2014
Most of us probably spent time with members of our extended family over the holidays. For some, that time likely included some awkward moments. But it's a safe bet no one's family gatherings were as awful as the one depicted in the new film August: Osage County.

The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts (who plays Sen. Lockhart on Showtime's Homeland), and it tells the story of the Weston clan, who come together after their alcoholic patriarch (played by Sam Shepard) commits suicide. The matriarch, Violet (Meryl Streep) is an intensely mean-spirited, cancer plagued drug addict. Violet's three adult daughters all have issues of their own. This is one dysfunctional bunch.

The original stage production is regarded as a dark comedy. But if the movie version is supposed to be funny, it seems no one bothered to tell the actors. They all seem to be playing the scenes with a deadly a serious tone, and rightfully so. The movie depicts some serious issues: cancer, drug addiction, suicide, divorce, incest and corruption of a minor. There's no dark comedy here, just plain darkness. (I haven't seen the play, but its author, Mr. Letts, also wrote the screenplay. So, I'm guessing it's rather faithful.) Streep is (it almost goes without saying) phenomenal. Her performance is powerful and devastating. Julia Roberts, who plays eldest daughter Barbara, is also commanding, though her character is anything but charming. If you've always longed to see America's Sweetheart act somber and bitter for two hours, this is the movie for you. Her trademark smile is nowhere in sight. Julianne Nicholson (Boardwalk Empire) displays a poignant determination as another sister, Ivy, who strives for happiness despite some pretty insurmountable obstacles. Their performances are so good, it's almost hard to believe the movie is so unsatisfying. Never have I seen such good acting in the service of a story so unappealing.

While most of the cast is stellar, there are two notable exceptions: UK stars Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberbatch both struggle with their American accents. While I truly admire the previous work of both men, I had to wonder, with all the out of work thespians in this country, couldn't the producers find two American actors who were talented enough to play the roles? (Are we running dangerously low on Baldwin brothers?) Cumberbatch, in particular, surely isn't hurting for employment. It seemed like he was in every other movie released in 2013.

I haven't talked much about the plot. That's because there isn't much of one. There's no goal or objective for the characters to achieve, no central question (i.e. will there be a happy ending?) that keeps us interested until it's answered in the movie's climax. Yes, Barbara takes steps to confront Violet's drug addiction. And yes, some characters have secrets that are revealed along the way. But none of these moments coalesce into anything resembling a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Essentially, this movie is just a bunch of cruel, unhappy people shouting at each other for two hours. They're trapped together in a house and the audience is trapped along with them.

There are interesting themes beneath the surface: overcoming the troubled circumstances of your upbringing and how a child's love for their parent can endure despite constant abuse. But the themes are never developed into a message or a conclusion. All of this must've worked on the stage. After all, they don't just hand out Pulitzers. But it doesn't work as a movie.
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4/10
Great cast, big disappointment
ingbru231 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The film deals with a difficult family situation brought about by the death of the patriarch. The fine cast assembles as in the stage play to sort out different problems, some very long-standing. I regretted that so many of the arguments were laced with four-letter invectives and that only one of the family members (by marriage) showed respect and dignity when speaking with different family members. The women in the family bullied and belittled each other as though they were still sorting out adolescent grievances.

Surely, many families suffer the trauma of loss, but in this film the family matriarch wears her resentments openly and spitefully stirs up old tensions among her daughters to a degree that seems senseless. The men in the family seem to be too passive and willing to obey the matriarch as though she held a special power over them. This is evident in the scene where the matriarch tells the men to put their suit jackets back on at the dinner table in the hot August heat. They all comply like Sunday School pupils. Meanwhile she continues her spiteful comments. The film dragged in certain parts. There were loose ends that were never resolved. There might have been more "back story" to fill the audience in on the origins of some of the tensions. In the end family members parted with tensions still festering and without really resolving their misunderstandings. We found the film a waste of time.
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2/10
This is not a comedy.
Quietb-18 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Don't get sucked in by the ads that claim this movie is a comedy. There may be an intentional funny moment but this dysfunctional family is in the vain of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf", but not that good.

Meryl Streep gives her usual great performance. Julia Roberts smiles. The supporting cast is excellent.

The movie based on a play is dialogue driven. Little or nothing is done to open the play up. Sisters quibble at the dinner table. They talk in most rooms of the house. Occasionally they talk outside the house in an enclosed patio.

If you enjoy two hours of bickering sisters this is for you. If you are looking for a good movie or a good time at the movies pass on this one. Other then the cast, there is no reason to see this one. If you are inclined to see it, wait for it to come to a non theatrical platform in your home.
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8/10
Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, but not necessarily to Terms ...
ElMaruecan8231 July 2014
"August: Osage County" centers on a dysfunctional family, rooted in the plains of Oklahoma, as dry and bare as the heart of its remaining matriarch who has nothing but 'belittling comments' to distribute as wry marks of affections, giving a disturbingly ironic significance to the oral cancer she suffers from… pain-in-the-mouth, pain-in-the-ass. We understand that Violet, Meryl Streep in another (what-did-you-expect) virtuoso performance, let bitterness grow in the heart of her three daughters, each one proving that there can be more than one worst-case scenario.

By the way, it's interesting that many dysfunctional families feature daughters. I remember Woody Allen's dramatic masterpiece "Interiors" was about three sisters struggling to give their life a meaning after the deterioration of their parents' marriage and their mother's descent into madness. Again, you had the practical and rational sister, the easy-going one, and the tormented middle-child. I think there is some Oedipal meaning to it, while brothers, protective toward their mother tend to stand together, sisters are closer to the father, and are more liable to be rivals either to their mother or for their father, which is conflict-wise, more promising.

The oldest daughter is Julia Roberts as Barb, the one who inherited her mother's strong-willed genes, a strength that ultimately lead her husband to leave her for a younger woman, and naturally, her daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) grew as a disturbed pseudo-rebellious teenager. There's no excuse for her husband's behavior, but Ewan McGregor strikes as the kind of decent guy who can only be 'accidentally' bad, and it's as if Barb made such situation inevitable, as if there was an innate incapability to express love in her heart.

The other sisters are Karen (Juliette Lewis), the youngest and most deluded one, who embraced life with an ersatz of optimism to better cancel out her crappy past and came to the house with a sleazy Florida businessman (Dermot Mulroney) the last of a string of boyfriends, and I want to add : so far. And there is Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) who stayed close to home and as a reward, suffers from the old-maid syndrome where any attempt to express her personality is repressed by her mother. No rewards to her good intentions except low self-esteem and bad luck (for reasons I won't spoil) that lead her heart to her first cousin (Benedict Cumberbatch).

And in this drama whose witty and punchy dialogs are fueled by alcohol and unhealthy rainbows of pills, pain-killers and anti-depressants, each scene manages to be both entertaining and true to life, painting the live portrait of a family collapse, whose warning signs were the slow disintegration of its founding marriage. Basically "August Osage County" is to Family what "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" is to couple, and the film is driven by fantastic performances, all carrying their level of pathos with talent and authenticity mostly from women, but men have their words to say.

Chris Cooper is the husband of Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale), a lighter version of the infamous Hillary Swank's redneck mother in "Million Dollar Baby", lacking compassion and empathy toward her only son. Benedict Cumberbatch who'd make any heart melt as the ill-regarded "Little Charles". And if poor Charles couldn't stand up for his beliefs, at least, he'll inspire one of the most emotionally satisfying moments in the movie, and established men as the Yin to the film's dysfunctional Yang. Ironically, the only positive female figure is Johnna (Misty Upham), the Native maid hired by Violet's husband, Beverly (Sam Shepard) a once-renowned poet, a decent guy too.

With these characters brought all together after Beverly's disappearance, you have all the ingredients assembled for these great family brawls, with their share of secrets, revelations and twisted plot twists, and you have the local Oklahoman touch, making the film a mix between "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (it was adapted from a play by Tracy Letts) and "About Schmidt". It's greatly written, full of authentic moments such as the dinner scene, Cooper's graces and many mother-and-daughters truth-telling moments … it's an ensemble movie and I guess this is the role Julia Roberts should have won an Oscar for, not Erin 'gimme-a-break' Brockovich.

And while I saw the film, I thought I already had the title of my review in mind, something like "one's end inspiring many new beginnings", something about the necessity of reuniting to finally come to terms with the past and take a new start. Yet, the film ends quite abruptly, leaving too many interrogation marks. I don't expect a happy ending again, but all the movies I mentioned had somewhat of a resolution, a way for us to catch our breath and fill our hearts with hope. I know "hope" is a big word but it's precisely because the movie didn't leave much for optimism in the beginning than I kept having in mind this "it can't be worse" feeling.

I understand it was meant to be a realistic drama and in reality, many problems are left unresolved, if only because most people chose to escape or hide instead of facing their responsibilities, but maybe the reunion was a way to put an end to it, maybe there had been enough secrets in this family and it was time not just to let them out, but to make it worth it. I will never see these characters again, so I wish we had a few glimpses of what would happen to them after.

Besides, Tracy Letts meant the film as a tribute to his background, to show that Midwest isn't just populated by Rubes or Rednecks, like in the movies, I'm not sure the ending would reconcile a perplexed audience with the Midwest. I know it's not a requirement for a great film, but after all the pain, and noises and stress, we went through, even a temporary resolution would've been enough. Some characters' arcs were meant to be closed … even temporarily …
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9/10
Revival of a Masterpiece
Mohamed Salem Obada16 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A great drama film with a bunch of talented actors. Just everyone fits in their roles. Meryl Streep has got the lovely moderated theatricality that defines those who bring cinematic rendering of theater plays to completion, reminding me of the mastery of Vivian Leigh at realizing Blanche of A Streetcar Named Desire and of Elizabeth Taylor at capturing Martha of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Julia Roberts is really wonderful. Look at the long scene of the family lunch with the well plotted dramatic development culminating in the ravishingly natural Roberts' angry jumping over her mother/ Meryl Streep. This is what I call finesse.

Chris Cooper is a fine example of genius with his overwhelming performance through a limited role. He reminds me only of himself as the homosexual overprotective father in American Beauty.

Benedict Cumberbatch is also noteworthy with his ability to give flesh to that awkward son flowing with negative emotions. I liked the guy indeed!

Individual shots are great most of the time. Beautifully carved cadres.

Finally, I find the plot reminiscent of William Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury. The family about to utterly fall, the young man of the limited capabilities (Little Charles) versus the mentally retarded Benjy of Faulkner's masterpiece, both epitomizing the probably divine punishment of a family with deranged Christian morals, and even the sympathetic Black servant and caregiver who takes Benjy there in her refuge is revived here in the Native American servant/ Cook who offers the fallen protagonist Violet/ Streep the last obvious token of sympathy by the end of the film, plus her heroic defense of the little Jean. I don't know if the playwright/ screenwriter Tracy Letts was influenced by Faulkner, but who can escape the great Faulkner anyhow?!

It's an excellent movie, and worth watching.
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3/10
Stagey adaptation of Broadway play cannot find film-appropriate tone.
Jimtoday26 December 2013
The movie is a total disaster! Roberts in is WAY over her head, and it seems as if her upper lip takes focus in every scene she's in, which is a lot. I don't think she's any good, but it's not her fault here, it's a lack of direction, and she is the focus of the whole film, so she has been poorly served. Streep is working so hard to make something BIG and IMPORTANT of her role, she fills it with mannered tics, and grunts and bizarre behavior. In the end it's just desperate. The last time I saw an actress working that hard, she was on a capsized ocean liner on New Year's Eve, swimming underwater lifting a door off of someone!

The tone of the movie is erratic, the scenes all call out "Important Table Scene", "Important Veranda Scene", "Setting Up Secret You'll Find Out Later Scene", and so forth. The tone pitches from melodrama to attempts at bleak comedy very unsuccessfully. It's easy to tell which scene must have KILLED on-stage, as it is practically in parenthesis, but it comes off as disturbing, shrill and phony, when it should be tragically hilarious. I felt sorry for the actors in it. Two British actors including the perennially charisma-free Ewan MacGregor play typical Americans (poorly), and the scenery chewing in general would have made Geraldine Page blush! It's the director's fault. The whole thing plays like a parody of "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof"....and not in a good way.

Only Julianne Nicholson, Chris Cooper and Juliette Lewis get out alive....barely.
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9/10
Realism it makes you think about members of your own family, it's typical with complex secrets and anger!
Danny Blankenship23 January 2014
"August:Osage County" is one film one must see it's a winner. As director John Wells makes a fine showcase to show what it's like being in a family with secrets, and complex anger all centered around strong dysfunctional women. In fact many like me can probably relate many of these characters to some of their own family members. Based on a stage winning play this family drama involves the Weston family of Oklahoma and Violet Weston(the best in the business Meryl Streep)is a set in her ways high strong stubborn old woman getting ready to die of cancer she's in her final days and she's not gonna change her smoking and she's still somewhat of a bigot. And when the unexpected death and tragic passing of her husband happens her three grown daughters arrive to visit the oldest Barbara(in a strong performance from Julia Roberts) is the one that stands in the most with mom as she tells mama how it is about her pill addiction! Then Ivy(Julianne Nicholson) a bruised soul returns only to find a secret that will change her and then the youngest the sexy and outgoing Karen(Juliette Lewis)is off to marry in Florida. Thru it all the arguments and sharp mouths this clan never agrees on anything it's even the small stuff it's family drama at it's best maybe this is why Barbara's husband cheats on her, and even the appearance of Violet's sister Mattie(Margo Martindale)and her husband Charlie(Chris Cooper)adds more flames to the fire as the Weston family is meant to be left with third degree burns of the soul and spirit. As this film proves family love is tough and complex mostly with disagreement and dysfunctional ways and secrets and stubborn minds tear the family tree apart piece by piece. Overall great drama with truth and realism it's one film to watch for sure.
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6/10
Great Acting from Streep, Roberts, Cooper, but not for the Suicidal
danew1310 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is an actor's film and not very entertaining for the casual viewer...with very strong performances but not much else. It's also another in the endless American obsession with rural family life. It tells the story when a non functional family get together for a funeral after a suicide...in the end you feel everyone may kill themselves out of despair.

The story is long and turgid. Aside from a revelation or two, no one really changes or grows. The film ends as it began in a feeling of hopelessness.

Once again Meryl Streep commands the screen, even if her character is totally obnoxious and unlikeable. But Julia Roberts is an able antagonist in her strongest performance since Brockovich.

The men in the film have little to say other than Chris Cooper who is the only guy will both balls and morality. He offers the only human warmth in the movie. But this isn't a film for date night or light viewing.
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