August Osage County "plays" well on the silver screen

AugustAugust Osage County: This large ensemble piece is based on the Tony winning and Pulitzer prize winning play written by Tracy Letts that started in Chicago at Steppenwolf theatre. The story centers on the Weston family who come together at their childhood home in Oklahoma when news breaks that their father has gone missing. This is one crazy family and when they get together more secrets from their past emerge. Playing Violet, the mother and Monarch of the family, is acting goddess Meryl Streep. Her 3 daughters are played by Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, and Juliette Lewis. While the 3 daughters all seem to have intimacy issues they could not be in a more different place in their lives. Two more strong performances come from Margo Martindale, who plays Streep's sister, and Chris Cooper who plays her husband. Complicating matters is the fact the Violet is popping all kinds of pills including painkillers due to the fact that she is suffering from mouth cancer. She has turned into a loose cannon taking aim at everyone in the family. 
The highlight of Osage County, even trumping the strong acting performances, is the excellent writing from Tracy Letts. Each character is so defined. When they come together for an epic 20 minute scene around the dinning room table hilarity ensues (Easily one of my favorite scenes of the year). Some may view the performances as being too over-the-top, but that is how these characters are written. Having seen the play during its initial run at Steppenwolf, I was worried the film would not have the same frantic energy.  However Letts was able to trim the story (the plays's run time was 3 hours) without damaging the mood, intensity, or the central themes.
In a Q&A after the screening, actor Dermot Mulroney used a "Spinal Tap" reference to describe working with Meryl Streep. Saying "Most actors have the ability to turn it up to a 10, but Meryl, she can go to 11."  I think you will see Oscar nominations for both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. I have my fingers crossed for Margo Martindale.
 If this dark comedy does one thing for you, it will make you realize that your own family is not so bad.
Rythemovieguy's Grade: 4 Jaws

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