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“August: Osage County” (2013)

August_Osage_County_2013_posterWarning: MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

Synopsis: When the patriarch of a family dies, the rest of the family comes to support the grieving Violet (Meryl Streep).

Review: August: Osage County was one of those rare films that critics either loved or hated. The film revolved around the Weston family, full of eccentricity and chaos. When famed poet Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) drowns himself, his daughters return home to help Violet (Streep) who is battling mouth cancer.

The cast of characters include oldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) who is separated from her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor), while also putting up with her rebellious 14-year old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). The middle daughter, Karen (Juliette Lewis) lives in the clouds and is engaged to the thrice divorced Steve (Dermot Mulroney) and the youngest daughter, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is in love with her cousin, “Little Charles” (Benedict Cumberbatch). Rounding out the cast is Aunt Fae (Margo Martindale) and Uncle Charles (Chris Cooper) who try to keep everyone in the family in check during this trying time.

The film is based off the highly successful play and is even written by the playwright Tracy Letts. The staging and monologues feel very much like a play, and those long monologues help make the movie that much more memorable.

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were amazing in the film. Both would have you laughing in one moment and crying in the next. The range of these characters and the emotions they went through over the course of a few days was remarkable. The mother-daughter connection was very real, and both carried the film on their shoulders.

While both Streep and Roberts deserve their nominations, the under-appreciated Julianne Nicholson really shined bright through the film. Her character dealt with one of the biggest plot twists in the film and her acting was short of brilliant. Every actor in the film was given moments to shine, and each excelled. One of the more unique experiences was finally being able to see Benedict Cumberbatch using an American accent and playing a much more dramatic role than he has in the past.

The film has its flaws, much like the family. It starts out a bit slow and ends with an ambiguous ending. However, the film stands on its own as a truly unique family drama. John Wells, the director, is known for his realistic portrayals on human life from his works on Southland and The Company Men. This film luckily has been drawing the award buzz and hopefully will be hailed more than criticized.

Final Grade: 9.5/10

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