AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JANUARY 14, 2014

Not surprisingly adapted from a stage play by Tracy Letts, who also pens the screenplay, “August: Osage County” is a character piece if ever there was one. Set in the Oklahoma home of Violet Weston for most of the run-time, the characters are simply allowed to blossom and mold in front of our eyes. Pulling apart the layers and showing the true raw nerves of the inner workings of a family unit, the characters interact in such a believable and natural way, you’re amazed this isn’t an actual family. Meryl Streep dominates the film as the matriarch, Violet, whose sharp tongue and unyielding demeanor are equally matched by her willingness to invoke pity and sympathy from her daughters, played by Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, and Julianne Nicholson. Plagued ironically with mouth cancer and an addiction to prescription medications, Violet is unabashed to point out everyone’s faults in front of the entire family regardless of whom she offends and Streep harnesses this role with a vigor I’ve never known from her, owning the role and hopefully garnering herself some Oscar attention.

Roberts also steps down from her normal fanfare roles and plays the level-headed sister, Barbara, who resembles her mother Violet to a fault. Roberts gives a calm and collected performance, even when she is wrestling Streep to the ground during dinner or throwing her plate of fish to the floor in defiance. Streep and Roberts together are the best pairing of the year, allowing the writing to flow through two veterans who make the dialogue as intense as it can be. Unraveling with family secrets, every character has their role to play, each projecting different emotional states throughout the film. Most of the supporting actors are given their time in the spotlight and though most of them remain quite standard in their performances, like Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Cooper, many of the stars shine in their roles, like Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, and even Sam Shepard in his short-lived performance. “August: Osage County” feels real to me, bringing one of the most believable representations of a family ever to the screen, and with Streep and Roberts at the helm, this could easily become a classic.

RELEASE DATE
December 27, 2013

DIRECTOR
John Wells

WRITTEN BY
Tracy Letts

BASED ON
“August: Osage County”
by Tracy Letts

STUDIO
The Weinstein Company

R
(for language including sexual references, and for drug material)

COMEDY
DRAMA

121 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Adriano Goldman

COMPOSER
Gustavo Santaolalla

EDITOR
Stephen Mirrione

CAST
Meryl Streep
Julia Roberts
Chris Cooper
Ewan McGregor
Margo Martindale
Sam Shepard
Dermot Mulroney
Julianne Nicholson
Juliette Lewis
Abigail Breslin
Benedict Cumberbatch
Misty Upham

PRODUCED BY
George Clooney
Grant Heslov
Jean Doumanian
Steve Traxler

BUDGET
$37 million

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