August: Osage County (2013)
Critic Consensus: The sheer amount of acting going on in August: Osage County threatens to overwhelm, but when the actors involved are as talented as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, it's difficult to complain.
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as Violet Weston
as Barbara Weston
as Karen Weston
as Bill Fordham
as Jean Fordham
as Mattie Fae Aiken
as Charles Aiken
as Little Charles Aiken
as Steve Heidebrecht
as Beverly Weston
as Ivy Weston
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Critic Reviews for August: Osage County
A sometimes wickedly funny but ultimately sour, loud, draining tale of one of the most dysfunctional families in modern American drama.
This star-studded loopy melodrama is brash, foul-mouthed, self-consciously offensive, intermittently insightful and has a gaping hole where its heart should be.
August: Osage County is all about the acting. That makes sense because the storyline doesn't offer much that could be considered new or remarkable.
With so many scenes that end in harsh emotional purging, there's little opportunity for the cast to put the fun in dysfunctional.
August: Osage County is easier to watch on screen, and maybe for that we should be grateful. But there's also something to be said for sitting shell-shocked afterward, shaken and relieved to be free from witnessing more of this family's downfall.
Audience Reviews for August: Osage County
It's all fine until the deep dark secrets (so to speak) begin to come out. If only they were convincing enough. The tragedies keep on mounting, but it's hardly effective as I couldn't care enough for any of the characters. May have been better if they'd cared to execute the plot in a way that the twists and shocks felt genuine. Yet, for what it is, a single viewing shouldn't be fatal. In fact, I found it to be a relatively better means of time pass (apparently, for that once). 2.25 out of 5.
A quiet tragedy with a great cast. Why wasn't this one nominated for an Oscar? You must see this to see how good Meryl Streep is in it.
This is probably one of the first times that I truly noticed what happens to a film when you have a director who truly can't keep up with his cast. "August: Osage County" has a cast that is to die for - and they don't disappoint. But when the film itself is directed in a generic, uninteresting, unfocused fashion, it sometimes leaves the actors with too much responsibility to shoulder to make the material work. "August: Osage County" is better when it sticks to its theater roots and stages scenes statically. An electric scene at the dinner table or intimate exchanges between sisters or mothers and daughters work better than the film's earlier expository scenes where the film attempts to take advantage of its cinematic scope and stage scenes in exteriors or in mobile locations. This gives the first half of the film a very messy feel and makes certain characters feel unrealized. This is especially true with Meryl Streep's characterization of matriarch Violet Weston. Her first scene is an actor's showcase - she's druggy, sickly and irrational. She chews the scenery with abandon leaving the restrained Sam Shepard and understated Misty Upham looking like lost spectators. Streep seems to be experimenting at the beginning of the film with what type of character she wants Violet to be. Is she crazy or is it really the drugs? Is she truly mean-spirited or just a victim of a cruel world? It's during that climactic dinner scene where Streep seems to get a firm hold on the character and for the rest of the film is magnificent and fully realized. But if there's a standout among this talented group, it is surprisingly Julia Roberts who is amazing as eldest daughter Barbara Weston. Roberts lands her zingers better than most of the other cast members and also has her best moments with her facial reactions to her family's actions. The rest of the cast is good as well, but the material doesn't give them much time to fully bring their characters full circle. Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper come closest but they are given more room to breathe, to introduce their characters and to make an impact. The rest of the cast arrives on scene, get dropped in the plot and are expected to make something stick. This is especially apparent with Benedict Cumberbatch who arrives as a crazy mess, yet you don't know if he is mentally unstable or, as the film seems to imply later, a victim of a verbally abusive mother. Overall, "August: Osage County" is a film is only half effective. A large, talented cast thrown together in a house, given a Pulitzer-Prize winning theater script and told to ACT. They do that. But the result is a story that doesn't feel fully realized until halfway through. And that is the true definition of a wasted opportunity.
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