August Osage County: it had stinky reviews but ‘from the gitgo’ the petty critical drubbings of maybe uncomprehending critics were exposed for the misunderstandings that they were. The film is shades of the play, a play that worked brilliantly on stage, and as a film could so easily have been left out of itself. By opening it up and getting in a stunning set of players Tracy Lett’s great play has become an even greater film. There, I’ve said it. Southern Gothic but with a universal message for all families. It was grand guignol, but bubbling under us all is some of that. We keep the lid on things. We deceive and lie. We ignore things, and celebrate things. This hot dry look at the lives of strong-willed women, whose paths have diverged, revealed vast changes which have slowly prised them apart. At this family crisis, the death of a poet, a father, and a grandfather, brings them home for different reasons. On stage the set - at London’s National Theatre - was two floors of a house, and it was a star in its way. On film, we could share the history of the particular house they used, and because this is a movie we can move in on detail and then open it out. But not too much. Oklahoma looks hot and dry, and you can almost smell the years of stale air inside it. This was the house they grew up in and grew away from. It no longer held anyone’s affection. Directed by John Wells, who I don’t know. Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Misty Upham, Will Coffey and a few others; and, lurking in the production team, George Clooney.
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