Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (2013)

Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (2013)
This profanity-filled family melodrama may have been stretched into overkill, but the powerhouse acting ensemble and some worthwhile moments are irresistible enough to watch for.


2013 is certainly an amazing year for movies filled with a top-notch acting ensemble. Among them, just to name a few, are Steve McQueen's 12 YEARS A SLAVE and David O. Russell's AMERICAN HUSTLE. Adding to the list, of course, is John Wells' AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY.
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Based on the successful 2007 Broadway play by Tracy Letts, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY begins with Weston patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard) hires a Native American housekeeper named Johanna (Misty Upham) just before he goes missing. Following the incident, eldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) heads back home along with her estranged husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and their rebellious 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) to look after her cancer-stricken mother Violet (Meryl Streep). Arriving home as well is middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) and brother-in-law, Charlie (Chris Cooper), youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) and her handsome beau Steve (Dermot Mulroney), and finally, Charlie's quiet son, Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch). Then something happens: Beverly is found dead of an apparent suicide. Soon the Weston clan begins to reveal long-buried family secrets that go nowhere but downhill.
  
THE GOOD STUFF
 
John Wells' direction is fairly efficient, while Tracy Letts' own adapted screenplay is reasonably sharp with snappy dialogue all around. No doubt he knows how to play around with words.

Acting-wise, this is where the movie shines the most: Meryl Streep, as usual, gives an excellent performance as Violet. The way she acts all angry and crazy due to her excessive medication is riveting to watch for. Speaking of riveting, Julia Roberts gives one of her finest dramatic performances since ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000) and CLOSER (2004). Here, she is simply electric and even more so when she engages in verbal abuses against Meryl Streep during some of the movie's key moments. The rest of the cast is equally captivating, with special mention goes to Julianne Nicholson's breakthrough performance as the quietly affecting Ivy.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The heated family dinner scene which ends up Barbara loses her temper and strangles her mother, Violet. The other memorable scene is, of course, the "eat your fish" moment between Barbara, Violet and Ivy. 

THE BAD STUFF
  
Some of the scenes are unnecessarily over-the-top, at which a little restraint would have been appreciated.
  
FINAL WORDS


It's far from great, but if there's one movie you love to see top-notch actors insulting and screaming at each other, you can't go wrong with AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY.

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