August: Osage County

January 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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“August: Osage County” is based on the Pulitzer prize winning play by Tracy Letts.  Letts had another play (“Killer Joe”) turned into a film last year and had a recurring role as Andrew Lockhart on this past season of “Homeland.” So, the man’s been busy. Here he maintains the grand tradition of American theatre, following in the footsteps of Albee, Williams and Shepard (who plays a small role in this film). In fact, this movie reminds me of nothing so much as O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night:” trap a bunch of family members in a house together and watch them rupture all over each other and the audience. Nobody remains unscathed; as the temperatures rise (it’s August, remember) so do the tempers and, soon enough (too soon really), all manner of ugliness comes out. By the end of the film, everyone has been eviscerated; no egos are left intact and all relationships are in ruins. If you are up for that sort of journey, the writing is rapier sharp and the acting suburb. I could watch Streep brush her teeth and here she is in glorious form. She brings depth and heart to the monsterous Violet (as in “violent,” get it?  Playwrights are never subtle) and I loved every minute of watching her on screen. Others can pale in comparison but this is a fantastic cast, including under-appreciated actors like Julianne Nicholson and the brilliant Margo Martindale.  If you don’t mind an over-heated melodrama, see this film; the acting along is worth the ticket.

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