Monday, January 27, 2014

August: Osage County Review (2014)

John Wells brings to you August: Osage County from Tracy Letts who re-wrote his stage play for the screen. Easily the most melodramatic thing I've seen in 2014 thus far and compared to 2013 also.

Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) is a mess dealing with cancer and taking just about every pill she can manage to get her hands on. In part due to her tongues pain she says, though ultimately just being just being an addict.

The death of  Violets's Husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) has the entire family and extended-family making their way back home to help deal with the loss and Violet's downward spiral. Each member of the family managing to bring there own baggage to deal with to the table. Plates, punches and foul language ensues to fly accross the family house between everyone gathered.

These people are quite despicable - disgusting even - humans to watch throw around blame and light pitch forks for one reason only to squabble back to there own holes upon there own tripes coming to fruition.

Barbara, (Julia Roberts) Ivy, (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) all three of Violet's daughters return home although Ivy never really left. Ivy is the daughter who stuck around to help mother dear and thus is miserable, Barbera left home and has a failed marriage - thus miserable - and Karen travels around trying to pretend she is not miserable.

Violet's sister Mattie (Margo Martindale) treats son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) like a massive disappointment. In fact the only person who doesn't seem like a massive ass with baggage is Mattie's Husband Charlie, (Chris Cooper) but even he gets his moment to spit some putrid at the dinner table.

August: Osage County certainly isn't a happy-go-lucky type of film. I was truly misguided in thinking I walking into some kind of 'chick flick' where everyone would have there issues solved by the finale and the credits would feature some 90's pop feel-good-inc pop ensemble.

Where it succeeds as a melodrama with all thanks going to the superb performances by the entire cast worth of nods from all the categories; August: Osage County fails as a film. Its origins as a play lingers in its adaptation to the screen and through its Direction. Seeming as if no one had told Wells or Letts that when making a movie the camera and actors can actually move around. The restraints bared by performing on a stage are acceptable in the format but seemingly no effort was made to elevate this script out of that prison. A house only holds so many rooms but they managed to place a brilliant actor in all of the rooms - and the deck- press record on the camera and delivery of lines happens.

August: Osage County is likely to have a love/hate relationship with viewers to begin with given its relentless onslaught and nature of its characters. Personally I enjoyed the characters in a melancholy way and I dread to have to ever meet any family and/or people featured in this film. Although the apparent nature of the play was to be a look at American families in current culture I fail to compare to such here in Australia or what I have seen in my life. I simply took August as an eventful couple of hours.

Test audiences also managed to add a second ending that is apparent from the moment the film doesn't end where it seems it should have. A second ending that was entirely unnecessary. Attempting to add redemption to what could have been and ending worth provoking thought.

August: Osage County is an okay melo-drama help up with fantastic performances. The stage play roots linger around so much that it pulls you away from the experience. Truth is that acting just cannot solely make a film anymore.

+ Superb Acting All Around
- Stage Drama Linger
- Second Ending

Overall: 5.5