August : Osage County

august

“August: Osage County,” based on the award-winning play, is – to speak like a member of the family at the center of the film – driven by performances that will knock you on your ass!

The story follows the estranged, diverse Weston family as they gather together at their mother’s (an impeccable Meryl Streep) home in Oklahoma to attend the funeral of their recently departed dad (Sam Shepard).

Streep, always dependable but really clap-worthy here, is surely at her finest portraying Vi Weston. The character is a powerhouse, and Streep not only embodies her, she enriches her, perfecting her bouts of drug addled confusion alongside her sharp tongue and barbs. Julia Roberts, making a return to the screen, undertakes the strong-willed daughter, Barb, and while the chemistry briefly teeters between her and Streep, when you catch them in the nitty gritty, they harmonize and gain your rapt attention. The entire cast shines at the dinner table scene, with Chris Cooper standing out as Charlie Aiken, taking on the quiet, strong type with ease.

Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney (reuniting with Roberts for the first time since ’90s sugar hit “My Best Friend’s Wedding”), Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Margo Martindale and – briefly, but no less memorable – Sam Shepard fill the other seats at the oak, immobile table.

This ‘family’ drama will weigh heavily on your mind, and while it isn’t one of the most light hearted nights at the theater (in fact, it might stir up a bit of conflict, spike sales in aspirin, and have a couple running for the hills), it is an absolute showcase for today’s finest thesps, all absolutely gold as complicated, but frighteningly-relatable characters.

DVD : Some good bits on here, including deleted scenes with director commentary, a making-of and a short on the writer.