August: Osage County (2013)
John Wells directs the film-adaptation of the Pulitzer-Prize winning dark comedy play. The movie centers on a highly dysfunctional family living in the hot and rural Oklahoma city of Pawhuska. The family returns to Oklahoma to support Violet (Meryl Streep), the drug-addicted and verbally abusive matriarch of the family, when Beverly Weston (Sam Shephard), her alcoholic yet rational husband, goes missing. The forced family reunion is not of the heart-warming kind.
In the midst of the loss of Beverly, family secrets are revealed. As the viewer learns more of the prototypical dysfunctional family, they learn the background to a disturbed and tormented family. Barbara (Julia Roberts) the eldest daughter moved from the cancerous family years prior. Violet is a cancer that feasts on the failures of her family. It is ironic that the woman who spurs so many malicious words to her “loved ones” is inflicted with mouth cancer.
It is quite evident that the more the family, in particular Barbara, stays in her family house the more she becomes like her mother. Her mother starves for attention. She starves for conflict. It fuels her darkened soul. Streep does a fine job in this multi-ranged performance. While Roberts and the other many well-known actors act well in the picture I was left wanting more. I have read other reviews of people feeling let down, mostly because they had seen the play and thought it was much better. I have not seen the play.
Maybe it is the movies’ ending that leaves an uncomfortable and unsatisfying aftertaste. I would have liked to see more of the dynamic between Barbara and her daughter, Jean. Jean (Abigail Breslin) has about 10 lines in the whole film. I was left not understanding why she acted the way she did. It was one of the many plot points left unanswered.
Overall, the picture was good enough to warrant a view at the theaters. Margo Martindale who plays Mattie Fae, Violet’s sister, was the scene-stealer in this movie. She provided much-needed comedic relief. While not note-worthy, the film was still pretty good.
MPAA Rating: R (language, including sexual references and some drug use)
Running Time: 120 minutes
My Grade: B
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