Saturday movie review: 'August: Osage County'

Let me just say upfront that I didn't enjoy watching AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. Which stinks, because I thought for sure I'd love it. But despite the fabulous, award-worthy acting on the part of every single person in it — Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale and more — I did not like it.

Reason being: It cut too close to home, felt too much like my family of origin and how we all relate to one another. Which is in a far from warm and cozy manner. And this is a far from warm and cozy film.

August: Osage County

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is about a dysfunctional family and features discord of a distressing degree. Discord — sometimes even flat-out hatred — between parents and children, between siblings, between marriage partners. Plus subtance abuse and long-hidden secrets that tear up the family and heart. And a lot of loud and overwhelming spewing of mean and hateful words that can never be taken back.

Meryl Streep stars as Violet, the pill-popping matriarch. Julia Roberts is her daughter Barbara, a Daddy's girl who has forever butted heads with Mom. They and the rest of the family — all adults except for Barbara's daughter with Bill (Ewan McGregor), Jean (Abigail Breslin) — come together when Dad (Sam Shepherd) ends up missing.


This is the point in a movie review where I usually mention what I loved about a film. I can't say I loved anything about AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, but I appreciated the acting. Acting that didn't seem like acting. So real and overwhelming that it just plain hurt me to watch.

The story writing and story telling is commendable and real, as well. Kudos to Tracy Letts who wrote the book on which the film is based as well as the screenplay, who captured all the pain and frustration of such families. And to director John Wells for getting just right the yelling, screaming, crying and despair of some families. Perhaps their families were like that, are like that. I can't imagine someone simply guessing at what goes on behind closed doors and so successfully hitting it on the head.

And, of course, there's no denying the endlessly amazing powerhouse known as Meryl Streep, who can be anything and anyone she sets out to be, even a mean, racist, verbally abusive woman who gives not one whit how she hurts others. And the hateful unhappily married Barbara is Julia Roberts as you've never seen before. My heart went out most, though, to Barbara's sister, Ivy, played to quiet, painful perfection by Julianne Nicholson.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is powerful, and it's clear to see how the play on which the film is based earned Pulitzer and Tony awards. Folks who have far less discord and dysfunction in their families may appreciate the peek into the flat-out funkiness others deal with, knowing they're far removed from the insanity some call family. It may be enjoyable viewing for some.

Just not me.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (rated R for language including sexual references, and for drug material) is now out on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally. Find out more on the official website.

Today's question:

What are you watching this weekend?