Everyone has a truth to tell in August: Osage County, but not everyone is willing to share. The dark comedy, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts and directed by John Wells, pulls back the curtain on a dysfunctional southern family as they attempt to aid their narcotic-addicted mother during an unusually hot August.
The story flows seamlessly from start to finish—so much so that one is almost surprised when the film ends. We see the Weston family gather at their mother’s house in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, from states as far as Florida.
Tensions are high from the start and escalate at a funeral dinner. Violet, the intuitive matriarch played by Meryl Streep, goes on a drug-induced verbal crusade (swearing included) and calls out family members for secrets they are keeping ranging from a quiet divorce to an abusive past. The series of conflicts that ensue are exhilarating and heartbreaking. The film proves that keeping secrets from family members can have disastrous outcomes and depicts the strain that addiction can put on relationships.
August was filmed primarily in Oklahoma and has no shortage of beautiful scenic shots that contribute to the effective cinematography of the film. A southern-influenced score by Gustavo Santaolalla enhances the rural feeling of the story’s location while unique camera angles keep the film visually interesting as the story unfolds and intensifies.
The real reason to see August, though, is the acting. The ensemble cast, led by Streep who plays Violet Weston and Julia Roberts as her daughter, Barbara, delivers a superb and moving performance. These powerful performances lay the foundation of the story. Streep and Roberts earned Academy Award nominations for their roles which comes as no surprise because both ladies were acting powerhouses in the film.
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch also has a small role in the film as cousin Little Charles. Followers of his popular BBC show will get a kick out of hearing his spot-on southern drawl. Other cast members include Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale–each clearly worked hard to bring their character to life.
August is a beautiful film with an intense story supported by actors who pack an emotional punch.
August: Osage County is playing at Primere Cinema 10 and is rated R for language and drug material.
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