Monday, 24 February 2014

August: Osage County (2013)


Violet Weston: I'm so glad one of my girls stayed close to home. In my day, family stuck together.

Tracy Letts wrote a story about a family; a disfunctional family, a normal family. Something that resembles very close to home for anyone with a big family. Drama is of course a key ingredient, especially when you have family coming over. Do you want shouting? You got it. Do you want lying? You got it. Do you want deep dark family secrets? You certainly got it. Do you need excellent acting skills? You have it even before you think it. This film is a family symphony gone bad. 

The story is a look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. (source:

Much to our anticipation, the films starts somewhat off beat introducing us to the characters one by one, and their little quirks, up until the big family gathering at a funeral table. What a sheer delight that was. What every person is looking forward to when getting together with family after a long time. Of course script and play writght, Ms.Letts, does so brilliantly keep us entangled in each story line, reminding us, that this could easily be our family or the family next door. 

Staring from the spectacular, if not inconceivable, Meryl Streep, leading a cast that one can only but dream to see all gathered up, she portrays the matriarch of the family, the one who always survives, the grumpiest of them all, the oldest psyche that never ceases to be the sting that starts up everything. She is the core of everyone, and ultimately their destruction. 

Her wonderful cast of fiction siblings include actors such as Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor,Juliette Lewis, Sam Shephard, Chris Cooper, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch and Margo Martindale. As would anyone see, we're talking about an incredible line-up of actors who not only surpass the audience's expectations, but come to make justice to the originality of the characters from the play as well. 

However, and as truthful as we can be, as the plot thickens, and the best kept secrets are slowly being revealed, the film oftentimes feels to become strenuous and dragged on. The absurdity in which the family dialogue operates tends to strech past its supposed duration time, thus making the viewer lose even the slightest inclanation to what's going on in their drama. For this reason, we can easily pin-point from the beginning that the film tends to feel more like a dramatization of a stage play than a film altogther. 

The juice in the story is how vulnerable every character is, and the mutliple layers that they keep deep beneath. As soon as the yelling gets going, there seems to be a flare for the overexaggerated plot twist; the siblings who have fallen for each other. Oh the hubris. It happens in the best of families. Only with this one, the deterioration comes slowly and painfully at hand. But what a delight it is to see that life is so unprogrammed, that even the best of people can lose their way at some point.

One should definitely watch it with his folks, or spouse, or children, at that, and remember how it feels to not be able to stay away from your own blood, no matter the heartache and the traumas. 

Not much intented to say regarding the technical particulars, just to point out that the locations make it all too real to be in their family territory. Pulitzer winner playwright Letts, offers us a truly dynamic family drama that resonates for everyone who's ever been part (or even a hint) of dysfunctional in their household. Not the best drama out there, but definitely passes across some powerful messages regarding family bonds. 


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