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Friday, December 27, 2013

August: Osage County (2013)

When the patriarch (Sam Shepard) of the Weston family commits suicide, the family gathers for his funeral. But grief is the last thing the family has on their mind as ugly "truths" are spewed forth and dark secrets revealed. Eventually it leads to a face off between the vicious drug addicted matriarch (Meryl Streep) and the strongest of her three daughters (Julia Roberts), who is suffering from problems of her own. Tracy Letts' Tony and Pulitzer winning three hour play has been compacted into two hours but Letts, who adapted his play for the screen, has retained the ferocious banter and wit that was the play's trademark. As a dysfunctional family drama, it's the spawn of Eugene O'Neill by way of Edward Albee, only with more laughs. But it provides an arena for an ensemble (and this is a true ensemble film) of excellent actors to exercise their acting chops. Streep is problematic. She's excellent yet one is almost always aware that she is acting (especially next to Roberts' and Julianne Nicholson's naturalistic acting style), giving the kind of performance the Streep haters always accuse her of. The film is well written but it doesn't give us anything new. Still, acting this good all in one film is hard to come by and it's well done. The large cast includes Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Misty Upham (FROZEN RIVER).

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