Friday, January 10, 2014

Movie Review - August: Osage County

Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep and Julia Robert have both earned SAG and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress for their roles in August: Osage County (pronounced Oh-say-g, by the way, not Oh-sah-jay like I originally thought). That tells you something off the bat. What you might not know is that although the film moves at a slower pace - maybe because it's based off the play of the same name - the rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Make no mistake, though: this is Streep's movie.

Violet Weston (Streep) is dying of mouth cancer, and her husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) has had enough; he hires a housekeeper to take care of them and make meals. The day after he does that, he disappears. The rest of the clan - sisters Barbara (Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), and Karen (Juliette Lewis), come home to visit with their mother, and they bring their estranged husband (Barbara) and fiance (Karen), as well as some pretty big secrets. Their aunt Mattie Fay (Margo Martindale) and her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper), who live nearby, come to visit as well, and soon enough fights and chaos ensues.

The movie starts with a scene between Streep and Shepard, and we can immediately tell Streep's character is sick: her skin is sallow and she has small, fine hair. Later in the movie, she puts on a wig, especially when she's with the family, but we see her at her most vulnerable in ensuing scenes when she's wigless. She and Roberts' character gets into all-out, dragging, screaming fights (see the movie's poster for an example), partially because she's a drug addict (pill popper) who has no shame in ruthlessly berating her family, and partially because her daughters do indeed care about her, and think she should go back to rehab.

Yes, see this movie. It's a bit slow throughout, which maybe brought my rating down a half-star, but the performances are phenomenal. There are so many A-listers in this movie it's hard to count, but at the same time, Streep steals the show, with bits by Roberts now and then that almost compare. I haven't even mentioned Dermot Mulroney, as the pedophile-esque fiance of Ivy (Nicholson), who hits on Roberts' and Ewan McGregor's 14-year-old daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, or Benedict Cumberbatch as "Little Charlie," a first cousin and the son of Martindale and Cooper's characters. This is definitely one dysfunctional family, but because of that the movie is able to keep us captivated, and it should do well this holiday season, especially with the award nominations it has already secured.

August: Osage County is in theaters today, December 25th, and is rated R with a runtime of 121 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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