August: Osage County tells the story of the lives of the Weston family. After the disappearance of their father, the Weston sisters are summoned back to their dark childhood home to console their drug addict, unstable mother. This time of crisis brings together these strong-willed women, as they look back on their dysfunctional past.
It has been quite some time since I did a movie review. I feel like I have been slacking a bit in this area! I actually saw this film last month, but between all those Sherlock reviews, I figured you all had enough reviews! I mentioned in my Film Anticipation for 2013 post that I was looking forward to seeing this film, and it definitely was worth the wait.
I really enjoyed this film. I have read a lot of reviews saying that the movie didn’t live up to the brilliance of the play, but I have never seen the play, nor have I read it, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. Tracy Letts, who won the Pulitzer Prize for penning the play, reprised his role as author and wrote the screenplay. Before I went to see this movie I did a bad thing though…. I read the plot synopsis. It was a terrible thing to do, I know. I just can’t help it; I have to know what happens in a story… It’s like a disease. Anyways, even though I was very badly spoiled to the plot twist in the story, I found the story to be very captivating. Beside my love for character stories, I love dramas. Everyone can relate to this story. Okay, maybe your father didn’t commit suicide, your mother a drug addict, nor is your husband sleeping with a younger women. But August: Osage County is the story of a family, a family trying to survive the darkness and cruelty of life, and most people can relate to that. I don’t want to say too much and give the story away, but the events of this drama will leave quite an impression.
Obviously, the most interesting aspect of this story is the characters. There is something very special about each character in this story. Each character represents a different walk of life, which helps to connect to a different member of the audience. Barbara represents the person who wants to leave their past behind, escape into a better life, but keeps getting dragged back in, all the while battling her own problems. Violet is for the mothers trying to keep their family together, but is really tearing them apart. Each character is faced with their own demons that will some way transcend into the viewers’s life. I saw this film twice, once by myself and once with my mom. When I first saw the film, I had a strong connection with Little Charles (And, no. It was not because he was played by Benedict… I can’t help it that he plays all the good characters…). He voiced the fears that I had within myself: never succeeding at anything in life, being the failure of the family, never finding a person to love. Being a loser. When I saw it with my mom, she developed a strong connection with Violet. Violet’s a strong woman who had to work hard to not live in poverty. She was distant from her children, but did what she believed would help her family survive. August: Osage County has a fantastic array of characters, which is what makes the story so attractive. You want everything to work out in the end; you want these characters to succeed and be happy. But like life, it’s not that simple. This is a story that everyone can relate to, whether you’re an aging mother, a free spirited teen, or a maturing twenty something.
I was very pleased with the production, as well. I thought John Wells' direction was great. He found the perfect setting to tell this story, as well as the perfect house that plays just as much of a pivotal role in the story. I also very much enjoyed the score and soundtrack to the film; it fit the western, country theme well.
Now, you can’t mention August: Osage County without mentioning its outstanding cast. This film has such a fantastic cast of brilliant actors. From Abigail Breslin to Ewan McGregor to Sam Shepard, every single actor in this cast deserves to be there. Each actor is just a marvel to watch on screen, making the family dinner scene absolutely iconic. Obviously, the two standouts in this film were Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both gaining Oscar nominations for their roles. We all know Meryl is the Queen of acting, but, for me, this is one of her best performances. I don’t think anyone else could have played this role as well as she did. She had just the perfect amount of dramatic without making Violet a joke. What really convinces me as audience member is when an actor acts through every inch of their body, especially their eyes. Meryl creates a very hard exterior for Violet; she is a tough woman who doesn’t need help from anyone. But, a whole different story is told in her eyes. She is lost and scared, the world has beaten her down, and she needs saving. When an actor can portray that much character development just through their eyes, you know their good at their job. As an actor myself, it is always a joy to watch Meryl perform. She completely submerges herself into the role leaving the audience captivated and fully in belief that she is her character.
The same applies with Julia Roberts. Barbara is who Violet was when she was younger: strong, proud, and won’t let anyone push her around. Julia does a fantastic job of showing the progression of Barbara’s mental stability throughout the film. The longer she is with her wacked mother, the more she loses control. She arrives with her estranged husband and daughter, who she is trying to reconnect with, and ends the film with no one. Drugs are ruining Violet’s life, but Violet is ruining Barbara’s. Julia really captures the anger and hatred Barbara has her mother, and she does so with a full force of emotion. (I must say the ending scene with Ivy and Violet and the fish is just brilliant. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about. Julia is just so good in that scene.)
I absolutely loved this film. The cast, the screenplay, and everything in between really brought together a soulful story of family. I give August: Osage County 8 out of 10 stars.
Originally Posted on Actor.Nerd.Fashionista on February 15, 2014
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