Movie: August: Osage County
What it’s up for: Actress, Supporting Actress
I walked into the theater for this movie with my parents and the rest of the crowd was made up of people older than them. That set off a little warning bell in my head about what was to come. It was not quite what I expected, but it was an intriguing and enjoyable experience through a moment in the life of the most dysfunctional family you will ever find.
August: Osage County is based on a play about a scattered family that comes together after the death of the patriarch. There’s not a lot more plot synopsis I can give without giving away some awesome twists. It is a tragically interesting series of events that culminates in a fantastic ending. That being said, this movie isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s Ya-Ya Sisterhood-esque: a family drama that probably appeals more to women than to men. The older crowd (and those who appreciate the slow and steady flow of plays and movies based on plays) will find it easier to sit through since there’s not a lot of action. HOWEVER, if you enjoy thought-provoking and complex plots (plus some stellar cinematography), this movie might be for you.
All of the actors and actresses in this film really hold their own and then more. Every role has and important part to play and none more so that Meryl Streep‘s leading role as the matriarch of this family, Violet Weston. Meryl is Meryl. She was absolutely riveting. Julia Roberts plays her daughter, Barbara, who is tasked with the majority of the burden of taking care of all the loose ends after her father dies. She does a fantastic job with this role which evolves throughout the film to slowly create the understanding between herself and the audience that she is more like her mother than she thinks. While they both did solid, fantastic jobs, I don’t think either one stretched too far out of their normal acting comfort zones.
The relationship between these two characters is technically the primary focus of the film. However, there are complications and dramas between all the other members of the family that all work together to create the perfect storm of familial chaos. It is unexpectedly amusing…in a tragic kind of way. The other members of the cast should not be ignored: Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale are completely engaging in their roles as Meryl’s sister and brother-in-law. Juliette Lewis plays another daughter and gives one of the most satisfyingly heart-breaking performances of the bunch. One of my personal favorites was Misty Upham who plays the Native American caretaker for the racist Violet Weston. Ms. Upham’s role was small but important and she did quite a good job. And the SURPRISE actor that showed up in this film is (drumroll please)…Benedict Cumberbatch! Yeah, I may have let out an audible “WHAT?!” in the theater when he showed up on the screen. He also did a fantastic job as the socially awkward son of Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale’s characters.
The cinematography was beautiful and you could see how it originated as a play. The script was good and authentic, although a little choppy at times. The overall flow of the film was very interesting since it all happens over a fairly short time span. The best scene is the climax of the film at the family dinner after the funeral. That’s where you see the full impact of the complex script and screenplay. Overall, I enjoyed it and I’d watch it again.
Leading Actress: Oh, Meryl’s a solid “probable”. I almost want to give a definitive “yes” but I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine or Philomena yet and the love for Sandra Bullock in Gravity should not be ignored.
Supporting Actress: Julia Roberts is probably a probable. I need to finish watching these films as well.