Movie review: ‘August: Osage County’

With the Oscars just weeks away, the line of films nominated each offer something different with August: Osage County, it offers a family drama lead by the invisible Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

Based on Tracy Lett’s original award-winning play, it tells the story of one family who have secrets that have never been shared before and trials and tribulations to overcome but this is not the case for this is not the case for this particular family.

As the film unravels, we as an audience begin to understand each family member’s backstory and their struggles in the 2 hours and 10 minutes we are let into their world.

When husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) hires a live-in maid to look after his cancer-ridden wife Violet (Streep) while she battles with drug addiction, you would think that this would make it easier for Beverly and Violet to get along sadly this does not pan out the way they want to.

Beverly heads out on his boat to think leaving Violet on her own to take more drugs. Soon after, when Beverly does not return like he would usually do, she calls her family in her time in need.

Soon we are introduced to each family member, such as Violet’s sister Mattie Fae played by Margo Matindale, and her loyal husband Charles (Chris Cooper) who adore each other.

The three daughters: Ivy, the youngest daughter played by Julianne Nicholson —who is the most introverted of the three, oldest daughter Barbara (Roberts) and her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and their rebellious daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) who are having marital difficulties.

As Violet’s family circles around her for comfort, things are about to take a horrible turn as they learn that Beverly has drowned while he was out on his boat. The family are devastated, none more so than Violet who is shaken to the core by the news.

After the funeral, the family sits down for a funeral dinner when Mattie Fae and Charles’ son, Little Charles played by Benedict Cumberbatch, arrive late as he misses the funeral.

As the family sit down and eat, things take a turn for the worse as Violet, who is still drugged up, insults every single family member with no-hold bars on how she feels about their life choices.

Barbara ends up physically fighting her mother as she sees it as the last straw. The catfight itself is one to watch as Streep and Roberts really go for it.
But as the family takes action to save Violet from her drug addiction, things go awry in every which way for the family members, leaving the family in tatters and secrets now revealed to be the last chance for this family to have any ‘normal’ family relationship.

Forbidden love, marital problems, family history and family love is all woven into this Oscar nominated drama.

The performances of Streep and Roberts in particular are stand-outs, as Streep, who is nominated for Best Actress is spell-binding to watch as she understands the character she is playing and is able to give it humility for a somewhat unlikeable character.

Roberts has a headstrong personality and is to hold her own against Streep who has already won three Oscars (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady).

The chemistry between both actresses is easy to see and their characters exchange many insults to each other throughout the film.