11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
...after a family patriarch kills himself. And, nope...this plot detail isn't even close to being a spoiler.
This is a film that certainly won't be for everybody. If you are troubled by sensitive topics (to include suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, physical abuse, emotional abuse, infidelity and incest): this movie won't be for you. If you are troubled by dysfunctional families populated by either toxic or failing relationships: this movie won't be for you. If you watch movies in the hope that the main characters will emerge from the story to move themselves in unsuspecting ways: this movie won't be for you (pretty much what you see is what you get from the jump).
Its origins as a play are evident as the story is advanced almost exclusively by dialog exchanged in the dark, cluttered and sweltering Osage County (Oklahoma) home of Beverly and Violet Westin. Beverly is a poet --apparently of some renown-- whose craft has been set aside in favor of drinking. Vi is his chain smoking, pill-addled wife, recently diagnosed with mouth cancer. They have been joined in their home by a native American housekeeper, Johnna, hired to help care for Vi as she faces chemotherapy. In the movie's opening, Beverly mentions the unspoken contracts that mark long marriages. He names one of theirs (his drinking and her pills as things they endure together), and leaves no doubt that we are about to learn more.
And then he disappears into the bottom of a lake, prompting the return of his three adult daughters (one separated, but with her spouse and teenage daughter in tow, one engaged and with her Ferrari-driving Miami-based fiance tagging along and one apparently single...but more will be revealed about this). For most movies this would be the peak of darkness. In this one: it's just the beginning.
What follows is a crucible of anger, accusations, profane and high-volume kvetching as the extended clan of Westin gals (and the men that travel in their orbits) engage in a series of escalating verbal and physical assaults on each other, each claiming to be more affronted by life than the others.
In the end, nobody is redeemed, nobody is revealed to be any better --or worse-- than we might have thought at the beginning. And if you though alcoholism, drug use, cancer and suicide were a grim way to start a movie, then you underestimate the power of this dysfunctional crowd to hurt each other.
Worth watching for the acting and writing, but don't expect any surprising insights into the power of love and families to get past pain. These people are suffering and miserable, they freely share their pain and misery with each other...and stay there. The swim in their misery until bitter end, when the secrets revealed in their shouted confessions leave them more damaged than when the movie started.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2014
What a state of affairs! Bad enough that Violet Weston has oral cancer and a drug addiction that makes her just plain cantankerous but then her alcoholic husband, Beverly (Sam Weston) goes and dies and causes further confusion amongst the dysfunctional family. Violet's three grown daughters at least try to rally round and two bring their other halves along for the funeral. Barbara's (Julia Roberts) still married to Bill (Ewan McGregor) whose found a younger fish to 'fry'. Karen (Juliette Lewis) has got herself a fiancé, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a bit of a wide boy who's already had three wives. Violet doesn't like him or his name much. Ivy hasn't anyone yet, or at least she's not letting on. When she does let on, that just causes further grief. Then there's Violet's nagging sister, Mattie (Margot Martindale), wife of long-suffering Charlie (Chris Cooper) and their equally long-suffering son, Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch). Petulant fourteen year old Jean Fordham (Abigail Breslin), daughter of Barbara and Bill, is in the midst of all this mayhem, as is the native American nurse/housemaid/cook (Misty Upham), hired by Beverly and possibly the only normal one among them, who has to turn a deaf ear to Violet's prejudiced and scornful remarks. And to add to frayed tempers, it's a scorching hot August in Osage County.
While August: Osage County (2013) is a bittersweet tale of a dysfunctional family, and sometimes rather dark, it's fascinating viewing. What a cast! Meryl Streep dominates the stage and not just because she is such a fine actress but because Violet is larger than life. For a woman with a mouth problem, she doesn't half talk a lot. The movie, however, doesn't dwell so much on the fact that Violet has cancer but that she has a drug problem. The storyline digs down into each character's foibles, showing the sadness and secrets in present and earlier times. With such a strong cast, I don't see how this movie can fail to entertain and there is an element of humour throughout if you can look past the madness of it all.
I should mention that there's some pretty strong language in August: Osage County (2013), mostly coming out of the mouth of Barbara (Julia Roberts) who is prone to having hissy fits.
VJ - Movies and Books World
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2014
Fantastic film - see it if you enjoy witty, clever writing, a strong storyline and a first rate cast. Top notch script by Tracy Letts and superb direction in an atmospheric Oklahoma setting with the family homestead taking centre stage. Julia Roberts delivers a bravura performance as a very angry daughter (lots of F words flying about) and Meryl Streep as always is superb. Sam Shepard is marvellous it's just a pity he is not in the film for longer. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on an American accent to portray an awkward young man in a very touching manner. There are plenty of emotional scenes, some uncomfortable viewing and dialogue that will ring true to anyone who has a dysfunctional family background. The scene between the 3 sisters wrangling over who, if any of them, will stay to look after their elderly, sick mother will ring a bell for some viewers. This film is a bit of a hidden gem, I don't recall it receiving the publicity that it should have, despite the nominations of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts at the Oscars. Well worth a look.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2014
I'm sorry to say I wasted minutes of my life watching this!
It could have been so much better.
Might be a case of play doesn't translate well to the silver screen. The dinner scene went on for an eternity, I kept thinking we're still in the same scene, the same room, with the same people. That's fine for a play. It could even be fine for a film IF the dialogue is punchy and interesting. I have no issue watching slow movies if things are unfolding, but this was just hammering the same points over and over again. The family is dysfunctional, I get it. Lets move on with the plot? Oh more shouting. Then some more shouting. An earlier reviewer said if anyone wants one for free that they will send it to them, I hated this film so much I'm making the same offer (just pay for postage)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Life is very long" T.S.Elliot
Oklahoma in the summer is suffocating, summer in Osage County is worse. Not because of the stifling heat, but because of the horrible behavior of this suffocating family. If you think your family has troubles, 'you Ain't seen nothing yet'.
The film opens as Beverly, the patriarch, played by Sam Shepard is talking about the family to the new housemaid he has hired. Bless this woman ,she know not what she walks into. We have Violet, Bev's wife, played by Meryl Streep, in another magnificent role. She is the kind of woman you never want to meet. We Learn her mother was mean,vindictive and abusive, and that describes Vi to a 'T'. The entire family comes home when the father gives missing. Daughters, Barbara, played by Julia Roberts; Julianne Nicholson, plays Ivy,and Juliette Lewis plays Karen. This family is hard to take. Barbara, her husband played by Ewen McGregor and her daughter, come home and all is not well with this portion of the family. Margo Martindale, who plays Mattie Faye, Vi's sister, is almost as mean and nasty. Her husband played by Chris Cooper has some real balls, but too late. Benedict Humberbatch plays her son, whooped and beaten into shape by Mattie Faye.
The film certainly captures your interest. One nasty scene after another where we get to know them all. The acting is so superior, it keeps the film intact, and us glued to the screen. One thing after another as the family disintergrates and falls apart. We can see them going, and it is one of those films, you will long think about. Julia Roberts is superb, as are all of the actors, but she and Streep earn accolades. Not for the faint of heart.
Recommended. prisrob 04-08-14
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2014
If you want something to cheer you up then this certainly isn't it. I agree with a lot of the critical comments posted here but life isn't always a bunch of roses and certain aspects of the movie just about pull it through. Streep does over egg her performance but this made me dislike her character even more with the added satisfaction that at the end of the movie - housemaid aside- she was all alone. I could relate to some of the family problems - siblings do not always see eye to eye and cracks are papered over. The problem here is that just about every facet of a dysfunctional family rears it's ugly head The pace is also too slow and it takes about 50 minutes in (with the row at the funeral dinner) to get the story out of first gear.
Streep aside the acting is top quality. It is a little stagey being based on a play and I think the message is that like it or not we inherit many of our parents shortcomings.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant - what a gem of a film. It's about three sisters returning to the family house after their father decides to " call it a day" and commit suicide leaving their cantankerous drug addict mother ( played faultlessly by Meryl Streep ) to wreak havoc on their lives. The acting is superb and is particularly good during the meal after the father's funeral. If you've got a cynical sense of humour and like black comedies you'll love this , there are enough skeletons falling out of cupboards to fill a cemetery. If you've led a sheltered life and think families can't be this bad let me assure you that I know quite a few that are not too far removed from the one portrayed in this excellent film. I'm not surprised Meryl Streep received an Oscar nomination for her performance - I've never seen her act better than in this film.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2014
"August: Osage County" (2013 release; 120 min.) brings the story of one dysfunctional family. As the movie opens (pre-credits), we see Beverly (played by Sam Shepherd) interviewing a live-in housemaid to help him deal with Violet (played by Meryl Streep), who has mouth cancer and pops pain medicine like it's candy. The opening credits then roll to the tune of Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally" (which will play a few more times in the movie, it is Vi's favorite song ever). Not long afterwards, Bev goes missing, and the three daughters Barbara (played by Julia Roberts), Karen (played by Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (played by Julianne Nicholson) and their husbands/significant others are all coming to Osage County, OK. To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: ah yes, the performances! Let's start with this: as big a fan as I am of Meryl Streep, I think she is way off course in this one, with her performance so borderline over the top that it almost ruins the movie. You can just feel the ACTING dripping off the screen. On multiple occasions Meryl's character Vi dishes out zingers left and right that just end up hurting the people she supposedly loves, but Vi insists that "I'm just truth telling". The big surprise for me instead was Julia Richards, now 46, and possibly turning in her most mature movie role in her career, "Erin Brockovich" notwithstanding. At one point we see her character Barbara getting into an argument with her husband, who claims this place is a madhouse, to which she snorts back "This madhouse is my home!", ha! Other noteworthy performances are from Chris Cooper, perhaps the "sanest" guy in the entire dysfunctional family, and Abigail Breslin (yes, the erstwhile little girl from "Little Miss Sunshine"), playing the 14 yr. daughter of Julia Robert's character.
The movie opened recently here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wait to go see it. When I arrived for the late matinee showing at the local art-house theatre, there was a line around the block, literally, so I got in line and asked "is there something special going on?", but no, it was simply "August: Osage County" opening! The screening was PACKED, tilting heavily towards toward seniors for some reason (not that there's anything wrong with that). Bottom line: at times the movie is highly enjoyable, and emotionally HEAVY, but at other times the acting is so OBVIOUS and almost over the top, that it really detracts from the movie. Hence my mixed 3.5 star rating.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2014
Having seen the trailer at the cinema, and knowing that the cast was excellent, I eagerly anticipated watching this film. Although I did not expect a side-splitting comedy, the trailer hinted at some humour and amusing family interactions. It was, in fact, unrelentingly dreary and although the cast was stellar and there were some superb individual performances, notably the wonderful Meryl Streep, I would not recommend this film if you are, as I was, expecting an evening of gentle amusement and entertainment.
on 14 August 2015
My wife said to me the other night that acting must be a very difficult occupation and i thought yes it must be, take away the glitz,glamour and hype that surrounds the profession and one realizes that to be just even a good actor/actress, let alone an excellent one, requires a lot of skill and dedication.. Such films as August: Osage County bring this premise to the fore.
As a film about a dysfunctional family, it has some memorable moments, but overall if i had not seen it i would not have felt i had missed something memorable. However, this type of story brings out the skill and ability of acting and these skills are brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both of which received Oscar Nominations. The rest of the cast also perform with great skill.
I will not go into the story as this has been well documented and my reason for only giving this film a *** rating is the over use of bad language and
what i thought was a poor first 15 minutes in introducing the story of the film. What i found interesting is that Julia Roberts is playing an increasing number of roles in this kind of genre.
For those particularly interested in this genre of film, which does tend to bring out the skills of excellent acting i can also recommend a film with a similar story-line called 'Fireflies in the garden' with Ryan Reynolds and guess who 'Julia Roberts' as well as other excellent actors.