Movie Review: August: Osage County (2013)

Directed by: John Wells

Written by: Tracy Letts

Cast:

  • Meryl Streep as Violet Weston
  • Julia Roberts as Barbara Weston
  • Chris Cooper as Charlie Aiken
  • Ewan McGregor as Bill Fordham
  • Margo Martindale as Mattie Fae Aiken
  • Sam Shepard as Beverly Weston
  • Julianne Nicholson as Ivy Weston
  • Juliette Lewis as Karen Weston
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Little Charles Aiken

August: Osage County is the story of the Westons, a highly dysfunctional family from Arkansas who gather together when the patriarch of the family disappears. As the film begins, Beverly Aiken (Shepard) can be seen interviewing someone to look after his wife, Violet (Streep). Violet is addicted to pills and has recently been diagnosed with mouth cancer. A few days later, Beverly disappears and Violet calls her three daughters to come home and help her. As they gather together, all of the dysfunction in the family rises to the surface as tempers flare and long-kept secrets are revealed. 

I found the film difficult to watch, but not because it isn't good. It's difficult to watch because it is such an accurate depiction of life in a dysfunctional family. The mean and hurtful comments that Violent hurls at her daughters might seem to be exaggerated for dramatic purposes. If only that were true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of families suffering from this type of pain all the time. And in the instance of a crisis, everything can blow up at once.

As you can see, the cast in this film is superb. How can you get any better than Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, and Margo Martindale? A pleasant surprise, for me at least, was Juliette Lewis. I have never been a huge fan of hers, but she is extraordinary as Karen. Unlike her sisters, Karen is softer and more vulnerable. She clearly doesn't like confrontation and desperately wants to keep the peace. You can tell that this comes from years of practice. 

The middle sister, Ivy (Nicholson), is used to being ignored at best and a disappointment at worst. She arrives at the house with secrets of her own that ultimately lead to the biggest plot twist in the film. I did not see it coming. Julianne Nicholson is wonderful.

Margo Martindale and Meryl Streep are perfection as the sisters Violet and Mattie Fae. You can tell that despite their differences with each other, they are bound together by blood and will stand up with one another no matter what. 

Of course, Julia Roberts is the main star in the film. She is the oldest of the sisters and arrives home with her estranged husband and her teenage daughter. The strain  of her marital woes shows on her face in every frame. And even though she has a very troubled and complicated relationship with her mother, it turns out that she is more like her than she ever wanted to be.

The film is truly an ensemble effort and is one of the best films I have seen lately. Watch it when you feeling pretty strong and upbeat because this one will make you reflect on your own family. The film is currently in theaters.

Becki JollyComment