Monday, 6 January 2014

Film Review: "August: Osage County" (2013).

"I thought we were having a funeral dinner not a cockfight." Which is what this family reunion is all about in August: Osage County. This American black comedy-drama film written by Tracy Letts and based on his play of the same name. The film is directed by John Wells. The film gives a look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

August: Osage County is Tracy Letts' dark comedic play. It was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago on June 28, 2007, and closed on August 26, 2007. Its Broadway debut was at the Imperial Theater on December 4, 2007 and transferred to the Music Box Theatre on April 29, 2008. The Broadway show closed on June 28, 2009 after 648 performances and 18 previews. The show made its UK Debut at London's National Theatre in November 2008. A US national tour began on July 24, 2009, with its first performance at Denver's Buell Theatre.

The ensemble cast is led by Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham. Streep and Roberts gave the most over-the-top and enjoyable performances of their careers as the psychotic mother, with a terrible secret, and the damaged daughter, with her marriage in turmoil. McGregor gave his most dramatic performance of his career to equal the performance of Roberts as her emotionally damaged ex-husband. Cooper gave a great performance as he portrayed the tender loving and kind father figure to Cumberbatch's character. Breslin gave a fine performance as the tormented daughter of Roberts' character. Cumberbatch gave a dramatic and convincing performance as the emotionally distraught and child-like son to Cooper's character. Lewis gave her finest performance since Cape Fear (1991). Martindale gave her finest comedic and dramatic performance as the 'lovable' aunt and the wife with a ‘dirty’ secret about her son. Mulroney gave a comedic performance as the fianc√© to Lewis' character and has a ‘sketchy’ plan for Breslin's character. Nicholson gave a fine performance as the more grounded one of the three sisters and has the naive lover of Cumberbatch's character who might find out his and his mother's terrible secret. Shepard gave a fine performance even though his part was only brief. Lastly, Upham, even though her character is the smallest role and has the least amount of lines she has a great acting quality to her that could become a star if she chooses the right roles.

It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but August: Osage County makes up for its flaws with Wells' smooth direction and assured performances from the cast, especially Streep and Roberts.

Simon says August: Osage County receives:

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