August: Osage County
This film is guaranteed to make you feel better about your own family. If you thought you had been to a few awkward family gatherings, wait until you’ve spent a few days with the Westons.
August: Osage County is adapted from a blackly humorous play by writer Tracy Letts, which won the 2008 Pullitzer Prize for Drama. The film won Ensemble of the Year at this year’s Hollywood Film Festival, and deservedly so, for it has a stellar cast. Knowing the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch were involved, I went into the film prepared to be impressed. And I was!
A family crisis brings the three Weston daughters together at their old Oklahoma country home, where they are confronted with the reality of dealing with their drug addicted, cancer suffering mother, Violet. Suffice to say she is no shrinking violet when it comes to dealing with her offspring. Old tensions and past indiscretions rear their heads and we are privy to it all.
Both Meryl Streep as Violet and Julia Roberts as the oldest daughter Barbara, give outstanding performances in gritty roles. As a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan I can’t help but praise his role as Little Charles, the downtrodden son of Violet’s sister. He captures perfectly the victimised timid man, still named Little by everyone while in his late thirties. The other standout for me in the film was Abigail Breslin. Although in fact 17, she accurately portrayed a self-centred 14yo, a character only too familiar to parents of teenagers everywhere.
I was enthralled from beginning to end; each new family revelation was in turns distressing and yet riveting. A scene set around the dining table is particularly harrowing, one can’t help but cringe at the family dynamics as they play out…perhaps recognising certain traits of their own family members in some of the characters. Yet there is relief in sight with gems of humour injected throughout, enough to stop you falling into complete despair at the woebegone state of the Weston family. While I did come away feeling slightly more unsettled than inspired, I would happily sit through the film again, and recommend it to anybody with a family.