Valdosta Daily Times


February 6, 2014

‘Osage County’: An interesting visit but wouldn’t want to live there

VALDOSTA — “August: Osage County” (Drama: 2 hours, 1 minutes)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and Margo Martindale

Director: John Wells

Rated: R (Profanity, violence and thematic elements)

Movie Review: John Wells (“The Company Men,” 2010) directs this drama based on Tracy Letts’ play. Like “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), “August: Osage County” is over the top because its characters are extreme.

After the patriarch of the family, Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), dies, women of the Weston family reunite in the Oklahoma house where the family once all lived. Their reunion is not a happy one.

Violet Weston (Streep), the family’s matriarch, is addicted to prescription pills downed with alcohol and chased by a cigarette. While recuperating from her bout with cancer, she manages to make everyone else sicker with her spiteful behavior.  

Her daughters have major problems, too. Barbara Weston (Roberts) faces marriage problems with her husband, Bill Fordham (McGregor), with their teenage daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin), in the middle of arguments. A reserved Ivy Weston (Julianne Nicholson) is in love with someone but she cannot tell her family. A self-centered Karen Weston (Juliette Lewis) has found the man of her dreams, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), and that is all she can discuss, even at her father’s funeral. Their demanding aunt, Mattie Fae Aiken (Martindale), is also present.       

The men watch as these women rule the family. Charlie Aiken (Cooper), Mattie Fae’s husband, watches with disgust. Charles Aiken Jr. faces belittlement from his mother, Mattie Fae, who calls him Little Charlie, although he is grown. If these guys are smart, they would run, get in a car, take the car to a train, and use the train to get to a bus, which would arrive at an airport for an airplane to take them to a cruise ship that would land on a deserted island.

The smartest member of this family is Shepard’s Beverly Weston. He managed to leave this horrible family behind. He died.

After watching this, one has to wonder what person would want to marry into this dysfunctional family? These kinfolks are liars, manipulative, foul-mouthed and downright mean.

However, they do make for an intriguing drama. Violet Weston is at the top. She is a cursing racist, chain-smoking, pill popper. Streep plays her superbly. Her performance should be a course in Acting 101. Streep is convincing and likable, even when she is playing as disgusting a woman as Violet. She is Oscar-worthy.

Another Academy Award-worthy actress is Roberts. She plays a manipulative daughter with a certain precision. Her acting skills cut like a skilled surgeon. She appears nice, but her temper is as malevolent as Violet’s. This is where the film gains momentum. It nicely shows people are very much products of their parents. The symbolism of humanity is evident in Letts’ adaptation.

The other cast members are also potent. Each actor proves important. Each player adds to the drama. They provide fine entertainment.

This family is dysfunctional and grotesque. The profanity flows abundantly and plenty of thematic elements exist that will make plenty cringe. Yet the drama is good and you have to see how it all concludes.   

Grade: B (A backward county, but worthwhile attraction.)

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