Based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, the film adaptation of “August: Osage County” plays like a play; the location and set pieces are laid solely to create a stage-like environment for some of Hollywood’s finest actors to put on their best showings in hopes of garnering some attention come awards season.
And it did; Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts received Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. They were never expected to win, but the nods by the Academy and the Screen Actors Guild (for the aforementioned acting roles as well as Outstanding Cast performance) are signs that these were very strong performances, headlining a large ensemble cast that also features Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Shepard, and others.
It was a good show, but a show, nonetheless, as the film didn’t really feel like a cinematic experience.
The notion of following the film’s plot pretty much goes out the window after half an hour, as the majority of the characters aren’t particularly relatable. What followed was essentially a series of dialogues where good actors do good acting, while the audience continues to be awed by how dysfunctional one family can be.
The film was slightly darker and more melodramatic than I expected, and that’s okay, as long as there is a good payoff at the end. The one thing that bothered me most, however, is the serious flaws possessed by one of the characters, whose demeanor. actions, and reactions reached a jaw-dropping level of absurdity.
I do want to highlight Julia Roberts’ fantastic performance, playing an enigmatic matriarch whose world was crumbling around her. The film could have reached a whole other level if it centered around her character rather than Streep’s.
“August: Osage County” is worth a watch if you’re the type of audience that enjoys solid acting performances. There were also a few much needed laugh-out-loud comedic moments. But save for one brilliant plot point, it breaks no ground, and you might leave the theatre feeling like you’ve just had a huge fight with your own family.