Saturday, 11 January 2014
August: Osage County (2013) - ★★★★½
Writer: Tracy Letts
Stars: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham
There have so far been only two movies from 2013 that have left me with a feeling of elation after watching them. The first was Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach. The second is August: Osage County. It really is one of the most riveting, unforgettable dramas I've ever had the pleasure of watching. It has such a beautiful, indie feel to it because of the humble cinematography and soothing score by two time Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla. What astounds me is the phenomenal cast that makes up the characters. There are truly dynamic and powerful moments in this firecracker of a film, but there are also soft touches of reflection and human feeling that really bring the character's to life. Though it has mixed reviews, I found August: Osage County to be one of the most impressive drama's in the history of cinema.
A family crisis has brought the Weston family back together in the one house, where unsettled scores and impending troubles fill the air. It isn't a story about growth, or friendship, or overcoming past grievances. It's simply a window into the dysfunctional lives of a big family in a small town.
The more I see of Meryl Streep, the more I love her. She gave a breathtaking performance. Her expressions, her outbursts, and her moments of insanity always left me on edge, wanting to see more of this unpredictable person. Some say she overacted, but to me she was unwaveringly strong throughout the film. In a movie filled with masterful actors and explosive characters, I think Streep shined above the rest and stole the show. It's my favourite performance by her ever. She definitely deserves an Oscar nomination.
Julia Roberts surprised the hell out of me. She just transformed into this character, and showed a side to her talent that I didn't know she was capable of. Although I loved her in Pretty Woman, I must say that her performance in August: Osage County is by far the greatest achievement of her illustrious career. One of my favourite lines from her was when she exploded at her mother and said, "Eat the fucking fish, motherfucker." But her greatest moment was when she snapped and became physically violent, and shouted "I run things now!" She gave me chills. I hope she wins the Oscar for Supporting this year.
There were two other performances that blew me away. One was from Julianne Nicholson, who was stunning as the reserved, deeply hurt Ivy. The other was from Margo Martindale, who I've been a huge fan of for years. These are two people who can hold their own against the talents of Roberts and Streep, and at times, steal the thunder from them in the same scene. Both of them gave performances worthy of an Oscar nomination, and both of them made the drama so electric!
A lot of people were hot and cold about the rest of the supporting performances. I personally found them all to be very effective, with the exception of Ewan McGregor. Abigail Breslin was terrific as a 14-year-old girl who is thrown into the thick of the drama. Juliette Lewis shined in her role as a ditzy woman that is in serious denial about her scumbag fiancé. Dermott Mulroney was great as the slimeball fiancé of Lewis. Most surprisingly, the very British Benedict Cumberbatch shined as a man whose mother had destroyed almost all of his confidence growing up. I might also add that Chris Cooper played his father, and gave a very moving speech where he stands up for his son. As for Ewan McGregor, I love the man, but his American accent just doesn't do it for me. He stuck out a bit in this film, but he still gave a good performance.
The performances aside, what really makes this movie great is the dialogue. Many have complained about how the film is "too faithful," to the play, and it doesn't translate well on screen. I think that's codswallop! Every single actor knew how to deliver their lines with conviction and sincerity, and every single line had a message to convey that was important for us to know, or revealing about the character. There were countless moments where my jaw just dropped from the blunt, raw words that came out of their mouths. I adore films that explore the human condition, and make the audience think about why the characters are the way they are. August: Osage County is one of the only films from 2013 that genuinely left me speechless and feeling better after having seen it. This is a movie I will certainly be rooting for at the upcoming awards season. Despite what critics say, this is a damn-good film!