Film Review – August: Osage County (2013)

August - feature

Title – August: Osage County (2013)

Director – John Wells (The Company Men)

Cast – Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigal Breslin, Benidict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard

Plot – When family head Beverly Weston (Shepard) disappears the Weston family gather together at the family home where there cancer stricken and matter of fact mother Violet (Streep) reigns, pills and all. With everyone in the house family secrets and open wounds begin to be uncovered.

“You don’t get it, do you? You don’t get it! I AM running things now!”

Review by Eddie on 12/06/2014

If your idea of a good movie is 2 hours with a bunch of highly talented actors continually yelling at each other, then my goodness is August: Osage County the movie for you! Director John Wells starry and talk fuelled adaptation of Tracy Letts play is a movie filled with far too much acting and in many cases over-acting and not enough inhabiting of characters, it seems that all concerned were counting down the days until the Oscar arrived on their front doorstep.

Leading the way with an at times downright maniacal display of over the top hysterics is Meryl Streep who somehow once more was nominated for her insane, frustrating and frankly unbelievable turn as cancer ridden family head Violet Weston. Streep is ably supported in the going all out stakes by the profanity spitting Julia Roberts and the annoying and annoyingly short shifted Juliette Lewis as daughters Barbara and Karen respectively, even normally ace British star Benedict Cumberbatch inhabits a strange turn as family cousin Little Charles. It’s a worrying thing that the film goes from the extremes of these actors to the barely rising beyond a pulse turns from Ewan McGregor (who it must be said is horribly miscast), the frequently annoying Abigal Breslin and the usually reliable Chris Cooper. Only bit part players Margo Martindale and Dermot Mulroney come out on top in their respective roles but even if all actors were on top of their games it’s highly unlikely the films story would of struck cinematic gold.

No doubt striking a chord on stage, the material in August just isn’t enough to warrant a 2 hour cinema venture with many scenarios and situations just not working on the screen. A key sequence in the film centred around the family dinner table is supposed to create all types of emotions within the audience but is instead derailed by an overarching sense of unbelieve-ability and again a reliance on the actors trying to out yell each OTHER! Other key revelations in the film feel horribly sign posted and at times wholly unnecessary.

With stale direction, an abundance of miscalculated performances, a bunch of characters that aren’t really worth caring about and with a story that never really goes to any places we haven’t been to before and in many cases been to more convincingly, August: Osage County is saved from complete mediocrity by a couple of nice supporting acting turns and a strange sensation that you must keep watching to see just HOW LOUD THINGS CAN GET in the Weston household!

2 dropped casseroles out of 5

21 responses to “Film Review – August: Osage County (2013)

  1. Good review Eddie. The cast is fine, but the material just never resonated with me. Too many unlikable people here that didn’t really ring true to me, despite the ensemble trying very, very hard to make me think otherwise.

    • Spot on man, I don’t think I really liked a single character in the flick and it all ringed of feeling a little over the top and not at all believable.
      Eddie

  2. Thank you for the review Eddie! I watched the trailer a few months ago and it seemed so STUPID (yelling is contagious) – even though the cast did seem ideal.

    • It’s a strange one Maria I must say that I wasn’t overly keen on catching it but with a cast like that I had to give it a shot. Can see why it did such lacklustre business at the box office and was pretty lucky to get the 2 token Oscar nominations.
      Eddie

  3. I pretty much agreed with you except for Julia Roberts…I thought she was very good. Margo Martindale is never bad and I thought she was extremely good in this. But like you I felt the unrelenting in your face yelling was just too much. I’ve seen a few plays recently regarding family problems like this one and the difference is that the viewer is not so close…there is a distance from the audience when seen on a stage. So I can see how this was a successful stage play, but as a movie…yikes! (And I know you didn’t like Emma Thompson,but Meryl Streep undeservedly stole her Oscar nomination with this one 🙂 )

    • I do think (as Jordan does to) that Meryl just could do about anything and be nominated, sad but true. Good point about the distance in a stage play I could see this working much better in that format. I am a real fan of Martindale she was just ace in Justified when she was on there.
      Eddie

  4. aw bummer, seems we’re not on the same page lately but that makes for interesting discussion. I loved the movie! I watched it twice in a row like a weirdo, and then the next day before my “rental” expired On Demand. The characters seemed real to me with real problems and lots of imperfect moments, behavior and consequences. I found the directing and cinematography quite beautiful at some moments, especially those wide shots of the countryside. I rolled my eyes a little when Julia was nominated for an Oscar but that was before I even saw the movie. Now I get it. I’m surprised there isn’t more support in the comments, didn’t anybody else at least like it?

    • I hope to hear from a few Susan, I must say it seems there is a much higher chance of liking it than not IMDB rates it quite strongly and my very own parents both really though highly of it. I just found personally no connection to these people and seeming as though it was 2 hours in a house with them, that didn’t work for me.
      Eddie

      • Did you see….crap I forget the title…the Robert Redford movie where he’s at sea? I haven’t watched yet but I heard similar reactions to his character like “Why do I care about this character? Why do I want to watch this guy?” so it’s made me put watching that one on the back burner. I will say there was one scene in August that was supposed to powerful but it was a little unintentionally hilarious. The scene where Meryl’s characters is running through the field and Julia chases after her, the dolly shot of Meryl all disoriented and tired running towards us…oh my gosh too funny. (don’t judge me!).

      • Yeh All is Lost, I quite enjoyed that one (there is a review here for it somewhere) but it was a little hard to care to much for a man you did not know. Haha Susan that scene was all types of funny, I had to hold back from laughing out loud at that moment.
        Eddie

      • Right? It was supposed to be this big, heavy moment but it looked super cheesy like an SNL spoof.
        All is Lost! Yeah! Well if you liked it, I’ll give it a go. I’ll see if it’s on Amazon Prime. I’ll seek out your review after I see the movie. Thanks Eddie.

  5. I’m not sure where to start, so I’m going to jump right in. I was quite surprised by how scathing your review was Eddie, as I personally thought the film was masterful, but we all have our own experience when we view a film. I certainly respect your point of view, and it’s interesting to see someone present a opinion that is in complete contrast to one’s own.

    Personally, I identified with several characters, recognised various family members in other characters, and had an empathy for some situations and the myriad of emotions at play. In short, a profound experience for this viewer. To get specific, I thought the performances across the board were strong (particularly Julianne Nicholson’s portrayal of Ivy which I thought was nuanced and restrained until the character cracked in the climax), felt the cinematography and production design was spot on, and Gustavo Santaolalla’s score was subtle, yet evocative. I remember feeling the heat of the Oklahoma plains bead on the nape of my neck.

    I’m not going to harp on much more about it Eddie. Like I said in the beginning, I find it really interesting to read someone have such an extreme viewpoint about a film that I just had to comment. Keep up the good work!

    • Phil thanks so much for your thoughts mate, I can say quite a few people in talking about this film have said they identified with the characters and I think that is the crux of the matter with this one – if you can’t buy there plights there isn’t much gold to be got.

      On a real side not but as a mention of Santaolalla’s score work he is such a fantastic composer, the work he did on the Sony game The Last of Us was some of the best I have heard in a medium and his film scores always compliment the respective films.
      Eddie

  6. Agreed Eddie, this one is a misstep. Despite stage success the story is not at all suited to the cinema screen and the over-acting gets incredibly annoying as the decibels rise. And I hated Cumberbatch’s character! Great work mate.

    Adam.

  7. It sucks a bit. I loved the play so much after seeing it. When I found out they were making a movie of it, I was so happy.
    Actors were great in their performances but the script was a bit dull.

  8. Pingback: Film Review – Burnt (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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