August Osage County

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

Directed By: John Wells

Family. The core foundation at August Osage County. A very dysfunctional family. A matriarch who is at times a devil, and other times, in fleeting moments, a caring mother. But most of the time, she’s a devil. August Osage County is based on the Tony award winning play of the same name, and it recently earned both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts more Oscar nominations. The good news is that I felt both deserved it.

Meryl Streep plays the head of the family brought back together after a family crisis. Her three daughters come back. Barbara (Roberts) is separated from her husband (McGregor), but brings him along too, as well as their cigarette smoking 14 year old daughter (Breslin). Ivy (Nicholson) is seen as the weakest of the trio, but she’s secretly dating her cousin Charles (Cumberbatch). Karen (Lewis) brings her fiance (Mulroney) back with her. Martindale and Cooper play Streep’s sister and brother-in-law, respectively.

Set in the desolate wasteland of Oklahoma, the film unspools much like the sanity in the family. People attack each other, secrets come out, and nobody is safe. Streep’s pill-popping matriarch is easy to blame at first, but everyone is really responsible for their own mistakes. The brilliant cast soars above the script, making the most out of long rambling scenes. Specifically, Streep, Roberts, and Cooper stand out from the rest of the cast. Each one of them has their own “big moment” in the script. Martindale is good too.

Some big reveals late in the film keep the film interesting until the end. It drags a big in spots, but it really holds pretty well for a “talker”. Definitely not a happy movie. I have no idea why it was nominated for a Golden Globe in the comedy category. I didn’t laugh once. This is a pretty clear cut drama. What a bizarre nomination.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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