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Starts intensely dark...and then gets darker still..
on 24 August 2014
...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.