August: Osage County | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
DONATE

August: Osage County 

The theater of familial recriminations

Pin It
Favorite
August: Osage County
  • August: Osage County

In all fairness, you should probably just ignore me when it comes to August: Osage County, since Tracy Letts’ adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play falls squarely in a category of drama that almost never works for me: theater of familial recriminations.

The family in question here is the Weston clan of titular Osage County, Okla., facing the sudden disappearance of patriarch Bev (Sam Shepherd). Reunited to help their pill-addicted/cancer-stricken mom Violet (Meryl Streep) deal with the situation are her three daughters: Barbara (Julia Roberts), coping with estrangement from her own husband (Ewan McGregor); Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), who’s hiding her new romantic relationship; and Karen (Juliette Lewis), the free-spirited black sheep who brings her fiance (Dermot Mulroney) to the gathering.

There’s plenty of solid dark humor strewn throughout Letts’ text—directed by TV veteran John Wells—that gets at the needling interaction between family members, like the mockery of Barbara’s teenage daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin), for being a vegetarian.

Many of the supporting performances—Nicholson; Margo Martindale as Violet’s sister, Mattie Fae; Chris Cooper as Mattie Fae’s long-suffering husband—are effectively restrained, capturing the deep sadness of people who have lived in the shadow of bitter, unhappy loved ones.

But then, eventually, it’s going to be time for everyone to start screaming and explaining in detail all the horrible things that were done to them over the years, or rationalizing the horrible things they did to others. And that gives Streep and Roberts in particular an excuse to capital-A Act to the balcony seats, hurling tableware and insults with equal ferocity and a virtual guarantee that their “Most Acting” will somehow be misinterpreted as “Best Acting.” If there’s a way for such furiously over-the-top histrionics to be entertaining, rather than aggravating, I’m not sure I’ve yet to discover it.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

2_5_stars.gif

Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson
Rated R

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of ,

  • Walk of Shame, The Lego Movie

    New DVD/VOD Tuesday, June 17
    • Jun 16, 2014
  • Drinking-Class Zero

    Following a night of drinking, Wendy Simpson, 25, walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in West Yorkshire, England, where she was told that the counter was closed and only the drive-through was open but that she couldn’t be served
    • Jun 16, 2014
  • Night Moves

    Night Moves is as terrific as it is frustrating
    • Jun 13, 2014
  • More »

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Movie Reviews: New Releases for Nov. 24

    House of Gucci, Encanto, Power of the Dog, C'mon C'mon and more
    • Nov 24, 2021
  • Family Therapy

    Encanto's emotional message gets blunted by its familiarity
    • Nov 24, 2021
  • Holidazzle

    Get your light-loving self out to Utah's seasonal illuminated attractions
    • Nov 24, 2021
  • More »

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Family Therapy

    Encanto's emotional message gets blunted by its familiarity
    • Nov 24, 2021
  • Unforced Error

    King Richard and the biopic trap of "showing the real people at the end."
    • Nov 18, 2021
  • Over-Coming-of-Age

    Kenneth Branagh's Belfast explores his own childhood with a mix of sincerity and overkill.
    • Nov 10, 2021
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Simple Creatures

    The monster movie Sputnik can't deliver the subtext it promises
    • Aug 12, 2020

© 2021 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation