Let me preface this by saying if you’ve seen the trailer, don’t be fooled. It may seem like a barrel of laughs, but August: Osage County is a whole lot darker than you will anticipate. However, it provides a showcase for Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper and others to show the rest of Hollywood how to act, like, properly.
The film was adapted for the screen from Tracy Lett’s play by Lett herself, and this is everything you would expect from a play-turned-screenplay. It is entirely drive by dialogue and the characters saying them and, no stranger to risks in the pursuit of Oscars, the Weinsteins gave this the opportunity to thrive. The film is a remarkable display of what can be achieved with a great idea, proving once and for all that every film starts with a script – get that bit wrong and you’re doomed from the outset.
You probably want to know the story.
Meryl Streep is the drug addict whose alcoholic husband commits suicide, sparking an impromptu family reunion. Skeletons are dragged out of the closet and secrets are splurted as they struggle to cope with the harsh realizations only a tragedy can force you to confront. The ensemble cast, helmed by Streep, is stellar. Every single person plays their part, taking their fair share of the burden and gives a depth and relatability to their characters.
It is easy to undervalue the direction in this movie, as John Wells had the painfully easy task of just pointing a camera at his cast and letting everything play out. He was, in effect, directing a play. However, the scene was filled with earthy colors, not even the characters could escape the browns, yellows and greens – surely a metaphor to symbolize their inability to escape from where they came from. You can take the girls out of Oklahoma, but you can’t blah blah blah, you get the idea.
This is a tremendous film, but the buzz has been swallowed up by bigger competition this year. Normally the Weinsteins would clean up with this, but it may have to settle for an impressive set of nominations including Leading Actress (Streep) and Supporting Actress (Roberts).