Streep’s ahead of rivals
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY ( MA15+)
Director: John Wells ( The Company Men) Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch
MUCH more entertaining than it should be. Far less enlightening than it thinks itself to be. You are now entering August: Osage County, a dazzling, frazzling schmozzle of a movie where Meryl Streep reigns supreme.
The mad majesty of Streep’s performance exerts a powerful force fi eld that often neuters the potent ensemble cast employed to keep her company.
You want a show? Meryl’s gonna give you one.
You want a gritty drama that moves, amuses and impacts? Meryl will give you a taste when she feels like it, but never the full dish.
Though she often seems to be dragging the whole production along behind her like a string of tin cans, there is just no stopping Meryl Streep
Based on the epic 2008 Pulitzer Prizewinning play by Tracy Letts, August: Osage County certainly comes armed with some serious narrative ammo, but doesn’t always know which way to aim it. Nevertheless, you will often feel the need to duck for cover whenever Violet Weston ( Streep) enters the fi eld of vision. This is not a woman to be trifled with. Though she is fi ghting an advanced stage of cancer, a crippling addiction to pills and some obvious mental health issues, it is best to handle Violet Weston with care.
Friends, family and the hired help have come to learn the only way to handle Violet Weston is from the safest distance possible.
However, now that Violet’s long- suffering husband ( Sam Shepard) has died probably by his own hand everyone must edge closer to the widow in her time of mourning than they would prefer. It isn’t long before Violet is tearing verbal strips off anyone who dares express their condolences in a manner she fi nds unacceptable.
The intense conversational combat that follows becomes all that August: Osage County truly has to offer the viewer.
The more spiteful the spats, the harder the fi lm becomes to endure. When the screenplay ( also penned by Letts) pulls back and allows some warmth and humour into the mix, all is temporarily forgiven.
With Streep holding the higher ground at all times, as she had to be in order to have us relate to an unlikable character that spurns all sympathy, most of her fellow actors are fated to be wounded in the crossfire.
As Violet’s rebellious eldest daughter Barbara, Julia Roberts gets the best chances to stand toe- to- toe with Streep. She scores some valuable points in the most memorable scene in the movie, where a post- funeral argument suddenly becomes a loungeroom wrestling bout.
Chris Cooper is wonderful as the only person who can keep cool amid this collection of hotheads. Benedict Cumberbatch also turns up in a decidedly odd role that brings out both the best and worst of this gifted actor.
However, when all is said and done, all roads through August: Osage County lead to yet another dynamic display from its incomparable leading lady. Though she often seems to be dragging the whole production along behind her like a string of tin cans, there is just no stopping Meryl Streep.
Now showing State and Village Cinemas