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MOVIE REVIEW - August:Osage County

on 13 January 2014.

You'll go a long way to find a bigger cast than you will find in the new flick, August:Osage County.

Look at this cast.  Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis Abigail Breslin and many more.  You would think that tossing all of these stars on screen in this adaptation of a very successful play would be fantastic.   And some of this is, but not enough.

In short, this is the story that takes place in extreme rural Oklahoma.  Meet Violet (Streep).  She is older woman who was three grown daughters and a very unhappy marriage.  She has also been recently diagnosed with mouth cancer, and as a result she has furthered her drug addiction to pain killers.  She is a monstrously unhappy addict who spreads her venom thick on everyone, but mostly on her amazingly dysfunctional family that comes to visit after her husband kills himself by not being able to live with her anymore.  She is simply drugged up all the time, and is unruly to say the least.

As the entire family comes together to mourn, the dysfunction comes to the surface, and all of the family dirty secrets come out. And the airing of exceptionally dirty, if not filthy laundry is on. This is presented with some drama, some very slick, and very sick humor, and a healthy does of reality.   Some of this is very good, and some of this is very funny.  But this is really tough stuff to watch after a while, as the dysfunction really becomes overwhelming.  And our main characters go from charming, to angry to fatiguing, to pathetic.  This is far more complicated than simply this, but for the sake of this review we'll leave it at that.

The entire time it was hard not to think that this would work far better on the stage than it does on screen.   It even looks like a play on screen.  There are award show nominated performances here including Streep and Roberts.  The Roberts performance is good, but overrated.  For Streep, this is a large and demanding role and as much as she delivers the goods, there are times it appears that she is rehashing the same, and much of her dialogue becomes preachy, lengthy and speechy.   That is not her fault of course, but her over reaching at times to sell it is. In short, she remembers she is Meryl Streep, where she generally does not while immersed in better written roles. Feels like an acting class.

The supporting cast is quite good, and what is done well here, is that no one seems to be fighting for screen time. This does have a nice balance to it.  But overall, there just seems to be something missing with this.  It just doesn't feel right, and when it's over there isn't a sense you've seen something as special as it should have been with all these stars.   Maybe this is just a play, a darn good one, but not a movie.

August:Osage County.  Moments of laughter and fun, and moments of great drama.  But just moments, not the whole package.

Click to read Lone Survivor Review

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