Streep’s ahead of ri­vals

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

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

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