Watching "August: Osage County"
Published on February 18, 2014 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review "August: Osage County."

Much to my surprise, I sort of liked it!

Here's an excerpt:

"Every year, there’s at least one Oscar-nominated film I can’t stand, and this year I fully expected 'August: Osage County' to fill the slot. But this movie surprised me. At times, I found it unbearable. But I also found it strangely moving, darkly humorous and entirely engrossing. A day later, I still can’t say whether I liked the film, or describe exactly how it made me feel. But I certainly won’t forget it anytime soon, which is a testament, I think, to its weird, almost ghoulish power.

What elevates 'August: Osage County' is its source material, a Pulitzer-prize winning play by Tracy Letts, and a terrific cast. Meryl Streep, as monstrous matriarch Violet Weston, and Julia Roberts as bitter, strong-willed daughter Barbara Weston, both earned acting nominations for their performances, but the rest of the cast — Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson — is equally good. Frankly, any film composed of scene after scene of barbed conversation, yelling and arguments is going to sink or swim based on the conviction and intensity of its actors. I’m not the world’s hugest Julia Roberts fan, but this might be the best performance she’s ever given, and whenever 'August: Osage County' threatens to fly off the rails, she keeps the film watchable.

The film tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family, who find themselves gathering at their Oklahoma homestead after the alcoholic patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard) has drowned himself in a lake. One daughter, Ivy (Nicholson), has remained in the area, faithfully tending to the cancer-stricken, pill-popping Violet, but two other daughters, Barb and the flighty Karen (Juliette Lewis) return home after a long absence. Karen has her sleazy fiance (Dermot Mulroney) in tow, and Barb is accompanied by her husband Bill (McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin, looking way more sullen than she did in 'Little Miss Sunshine.') The trip comes at a bad time for Bill and Barb: The couple recently separated, due to Bill’s affair with one of his students."

Click here to read the whole thing.




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