AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY – A Review by John Strange



By: John ’Doc’ Strange

Directed by: John Wells

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham 

MPAA Rating: R (for language including sexual references, and for drug material)

Selig Rating: FULL PRICE

Runtime: 119 Min.

When the patriarch of the Weston family, Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), commits suicide, the family comes together at the family home in rural Oklahoma for the funeral.  The three daughters, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis), and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and their families are a rough cross section of what we think of when we consider the question of “country girls”. 

One is a mother and seems stable (Barbara), one is a bit trashy and is engaged to someone I would not buy a car from (Karen), and the third never left town but is poised to do so now that daddy is gone (Ivy).  Momma Violet (Meryl Streep) is a drug-chugging, foul-mouthed, matriarch driving every single person in the house to distraction. 

Tough crowd, right?  Well, a family get-together like this is nothing without the rest of the family.  We have Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale), her husband Charlie (Chris Cooper), and their son Little Charlie (Benedict Cumberbatch).  This is NOT a love-fest but it does have a feel that rings true.

This film is almost overloaded with amazing talents who work the script like they had been together for years.  I understand that they had a week of rehearsals prior to the beginning on principle shooting.  If this is what a week of rehearsal can bring, all of the directors out there need to take this lesson to heart.  The story is emotionally charged with revelations and surprises exploding out of almost every scene.

August: Osage County is adapted from Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.  Don’t go to see this film if you want a feel-good story.  This is not a date movie.  It is gritty and rough to watch.  There is drug usage and drug abuse.  There is heart ache and love torn asunder.  This is a side of real life I pray most of you will never ever have to see… except on this screen.

Movie Site:

The Selig Rating Scale:

FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!

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