August: Osage County ***

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Run Time: 120 mins                      Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Following the death of Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), his family gather at the house he shares with his wife Violet (Meryl Streep) in rural Oklahoma. 

 

The movie begins when ageing alcoholic poet Beverly Weston (Shepard) hires a young native American woman named Johnna (Misty Upham) to look after his drug addicted wife Violet (Meryl Streep). He disappears soon after and is later found dead, prompting his family’s return to attend his funeral and provide support for his wife.

 

The initial 30 minutes are long, drawn out and could easily have been cut. The film then becomes more interesting as we explore the relationships between the family members. Julia Roberts gives a great performance as eldest daughter Barbara, a woman clearly at the end of her tether with those around her. Middle daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) is self-centred and irritating while Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is likeable but flat.

 

While not Oscar worthy, Streep’s performance is entertaining and hilariously over the top. Violet shows the harsh realities of addiction and her brutal honesty fuels the story by providing comedy and scenes of intense conflict.

 

In terms of the male cast members, Charles (Chris Cooper) and Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch) have a good father-son dynamic that is enjoyable to watch, while Ewan McGregor gives a decidedly average performance that portrays the cliched “mid life crisis” and sports a poor American accent.

 

Despite the writer’s attempts at adding twists to the story, none of the characters’ revelations are likely to surprise the audience and the ending is disappointing.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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