Presented by James M. Tate / 1/11/2014 / No comments / 2014 , abigail breslin , based-on-play , benedict cumberbatch , chris cooper , dermot mulroney , drama , ensemble , ewan mcgregor , julia roberts , julianne nicholson , juliette lewis , meryl streep , sam shepard
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY W/ MERYL STREEP & JULIA ROBERTS
|year: 2014 rating: ***|
Like THE BIG CHILL, the plot centers on a group of people, in this case a semi-estranged family, gathered in one large rural house after the death of patriarch Sam Shepard as Beverly Weston, who, along with his blunt pill-popping wife Violet, played by Meryl Streep, begins the story taking enough venomous heat to last a lifetime… One can only imagine this man’s long, horrible marriage and may sympathize, or for that matter, completely understand his immanent suicide.
Violet’s returning daughters aren’t so lucky, especially her hardy eldest, Barbara. With a cheating husband and moping teenage daughter, Julia Robert’s put-upon character is not only Streep’s best match, she spouts the surliest dialogue: without being overly medicated as an excuse (her loud mom, ironically, has mouth cancer). Scenes where the two leading ladies argue are intense but can go overboard, making you wish someone would step in to break things up.
The direction is crisp and never feels staged, painting a vivid picture that often exceeds an overindulged, melodramatic script with too much edgy banter… If a ringside bell clang before each “couple” squared off, the soundtrack would be a perpetual alarm clock. And while Meryl Streep turns in a solid performance, her addiction and illness provides too much of a safety net, making it hard to shine past her demons: handing the mysterious energy to Julia Roberts.
Tempered by sporadic flashes of the Oklahoma countryside and/or sunsets, it’s clear this meloncholy clan spends too much time self loathing when they should appreciate the peaceful, gorgeous exterior. Who knows – maybe that’s what poor dad wanted all along.