Movie review: August: Osage County

BY COLLIN DYSARTCopy Editor

There are certain films which reek of a group of people who sat in a room and asked themselves: How do we win a few more Oscars? August: Osage County is one such film.

First, take a Pulitzer and Tony award winning stage play: Check! Assemble some Hollywood vanguards i.e. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts: Check! Add in a desolate setting with every cliche  of the domestic drama, and, viola, good cinema. But even with the best ingredients, the cake does not always rise.

Welcome to the Westin’s. A family so consumed in its resentment towards  its own members you wonder why in god’s name they continue with this charade.

Violet, as portrayed by Streep, is a wretched piece of work, plain and simple. She is consumed by intensely fostered bitterness, which propels her through her days and is also killing her, by feeding into a drug addiction.

After her husband disappears, Violet calls her offspring back home to a place that they all seem ready to leave to ancient history. Then, like dominoes, the secrets, lies, resentments, and tears come out. I guess they cut the scene where everyone took truth serum on the way back from the funeral.

Tracy Letts’s plays have seen better film adaptations. Bug and Killer Joe both benefited from not taking their swampy -trashy settings too seriously.

Here we have a film so wrapped up in the gravitas of its issues and morals, it fails to give its laundry list of issues any real weight and meaning beyond screaming hysterics.

The formless shape of the stage play works for a medium without the luxury of cuts, but here drags along and permits little to no resolution. The abundant cast is each, with the exception of Streep and Roberts,  only allowed a scene to spit out some archaic moral statement i.e. “I live somewhere in the gray zone;” and exit offscreen, never to return again.

The film, for all its faults, packs some powerful and incredible moments. At the funeral dinner, Violet, in a drug and grief induced state, has all she can handle of the forced formalities of the family and releases a diatribe upon her three daughters.

Embedded within her venomous words, Streep masterfully conveys her ravenous emotional damage and is permitted some penance for doing what she thought was best in adverse circumstances. And like so many tragic moments her truthful words fall on smug deaf ears.

Another surprise of the film is Julia Roberts’ performance as the eldest child, Barbara. Barbara has had just about all she can handle of her family and the one she has created. Roberts does a commendable job of conveying a life in bitterness, she is not afraid to let the lines and dark circles around her eyes do some talking.

One wonders if Barbara is starting to understand how quickly she is becoming her mother. Apples and trees. Roberts’ also gets the best line in the movie. During a scene where she is failing to keep her sister from self destructing, Barbara doing everything in her power to provoke her mother screams aloud, “eat the fish, bitch!”  Priceless.

Ultimately, the assembled whole fails to conger up anything but anxiousness for the end credits. The film would have benefitted immensely from some judicious cuts to the original. It wants too many things. And it’s a shame because there are some good morsels to be had. ingredients, the cake does not always rise.

Welcome to the Westin’s. A family so consumed in its resentment towards  its own members you wonder why in god’s name they continue with this charade.

Violet, as portrayed by Streep, is a wretched piece of work, plain and simple. She is consumed by intensely fostered bitterness, which propels her through her days and is also killing her, by feeding into a drug addiction.

After her husband disappears, Violet calls her offspring back home to a place that they all seem ready to leave to ancient history. Then, like dominoes, the secrets, lies, resentments, and tears come out. I guess they cut the scene where everyone took truth serum on the way back from the funeral.

Tracy Letts’s plays have seen better film adaptations. Bug and Killer Joe both benefited from not taking their swampy -trashy settings too seriously.

Here we have a film so wrapped up in the gravitas of its issues and morals, it fails to give its laundry list of issues any real weight and meaning beyond screaming hysterics.

The formless shape of the stage play works for a medium without the luxury of cuts, but here drags along and permits little to no resolution. The abundant cast is each, with the exception of Streep and Roberts,  only allowed a scene to spit out some archaic moral statement i.e. “I live somewhere in the gray zone;” and exit offscreen, never to return again.

The film, for all its faults, packs some powerful and incredible moments. At the funeral dinner, Violet, in a drug and grief induced state, has all she can handle of the forced formalities of the family and releases a diatribe upon her three daughters.

Embedded within her venomous words, Streep masterfully conveys her ravenous emotional damage and is permitted some penance for doing what she thought was best in adverse circumstances. And like so many tragic moments her truthful words fall on smug deaf ears.

Another surprise of the film is Julia Roberts’ performance as the eldest child, Barbara. Barbara has had just about all she can handle of her family and the one she has created. Roberts does a commendable job of conveying a life in bitterness, she is not afraid to let the lines and dark circles around her eyes do some talking.

One wonders if Barbara is starting to understand how quickly she is becoming her mother. Apples and trees. Roberts’ also gets the best line in the movie. During a scene where she is failing to keep her sister from self destructing, Barbara doing everything in her power to provoke her mother screams aloud, “eat the fish, bitch!”  Priceless.

Ultimately, the assembled whole fails to conger up anything but anxiousness for the end credits. The film would have benefitted immensely from some judicious cuts to the original. It wants too many things. And it’s a shame because there are some good morsels to be had. stered bitterness, which propels her through her days and is also killing her, by feeding into a drug addiction.

After her husband disappears, Violet calls her offspring back home to a place that they all seem ready to leave to ancient history. Then, like dominoes, the secrets, lies, resentments, and tears come out. I guess they cut the scene where everyone took truth serum on the way back from the funeral.

Tracy Letts’s plays have seen better film adaptations. Bug and Killer Joe both benefited from not taking their swampy -trashy settings too seriously.

Here we have a film so wrapped up in the gravitas of its issues and morals, it fails to give its laundry list of issues any real weight and meaning beyond screaming hysterics.

The formless shape of the stage play works for a medium without the luxury of cuts, but here drags along and permits little to no resolution. The abundant cast is each, with the exception of Streep and Roberts,  only allowed a scene to spit out some archaic moral statement i.e. “I live somewhere in the gray zone;” and exit offscreen, never to return again.

The film, for all its faults, packs some powerful and incredible moments. At the funeral dinner, Violet, in a drug and grief induced state, has all she can handle of the forced formalities of the family and releases a diatribe upon her three daughters.

Embedded within her venomous words, Streep masterfully conveys her ravenous emotional damage and is permitted some penance for doing what she thought was best in adverse circumstances. And like so many tragic moments her truthful words fall on smug deaf ears.

Another surprise of the film is Julia Roberts’ performance as the eldest child, Barbara. Barbara has had just about all she can handle of her family and the one she has created. Roberts does a commendable job of conveying a life in bitterness, she is not afraid to let the lines and dark circles around her eyes do some talking.

One wonders if Barbara is starting to understand how quickly she is becoming her mother. Apples and trees. Roberts’ also gets the best line in the movie. During a scene where she is failing to keep her sister from self destructing, Barbara doing everything in her power to provoke her mother screams aloud, “eat the fish, bitch!”  Priceless.

Ultimately, the assembled whole fails to conger up anything but anxiousness for the end credits. The film would have benefitted immensely from some judicious cuts to the original. It wants too many things. And it’s a shame because there are some good morsels to be had.