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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lilly Faye's Movie Review: August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Lilly Faye: Dizzie and I recently watched the movie, August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Meryl and Julia were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscars, respectively.

The screenplay is by Tracy Letts, based on his play of the same name, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He has described the story as "somewhat autobiographical," and based on his maternal grandparents.

August: Osage County tells the story of Beverly Weston and his wife Violet, their unhappy marriage, and its toxic effect on their adult children, granddaughter, and extended family members.  

Beverly drinks too much, and Violet pops far too many pills, even for someone suffering from mouth cancer.

When Beverly disappears, the relatives, including Violet's sister and her family, return to the Weston home in Oklahoma. As the days pass, the family tries to make sense of what has happened. Long-buried secrets come to light, and fights, both verbal and physical, ensue. 

By the end of the film you may feel battered and bruised, as though you've been caught in the middle of a terrible family fight yourself. Some viewers may find this very uncomfortable, and some may find it cathartic. Like any good story, what you take from it is going to depend on what you bring to it.

There has been a lot of criticism of the language used in the film. I don't find it excessive, because it fits the characters and the story.

Dizzie: I think folks are just shocked to hear those words coming out of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Boss. When male actors use those same words, no one bats an eye.

Lilly Faye: I think you're exactly right, Diz.

August: Osage County is full of outstanding performances. Chris Cooper is perfect as Violet's brother-in-law, the glue that holds the whole thing together. I won't give anything away by saying too much about Little Charlie, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, but he's the polar opposite of Cumberbatch's Sherlock.

If you watch the extras, you may think Tracy Letts looks familiar.  He's not only an accomplished writer, he also acts. You may have seen him play Andrew Lockhart, the U.S. Senator who goes after Saul's CIA job on Homeland.

Tracy Letts is the son of the late actor Dennis Letts. His mother, Billie Letts, wrote Where the Heart Is, which was also made into a movie. 

The Letts family is from Oklahoma, where August: Osage County is set. The movie was mostly filmed on location in Pawhuska and Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

If you would like to read more about Tracy Letts and his family, here is an interesting interview with him from the March 21, 2014 New York Times:

Time to rate the movie, Diz.

Movie Rating: Two Paws Up!

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