August: Osage County – Review


Films based on stage plays have historically been quite a mixed bag, not every adaptation can live up to the likes of Glengarry Glen Ross or A Few Good Men for example. Overall, the more successful adaptations nearly always seem to be made up of those which cast off their stage roots and simply go for the story in the best possible, sadly August: Osage County is not one of these.


Following the death of their father, an estranged Oklahoma family are reunited for several days for the funeral, over the course of which they begin to pick at the scabs that have formed over their lives and relationships; if nothing else, it’s the stuff Oscar judges dream of. With a big name cast, a mostly solitary location and a script that appears to give each character their moment to shine (it doesn’t), August: Osage County is difficult to sit through without the constant thought that you are, in fact, watching a play.


Following their respective Oscar nominations, both Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep dominate proceedings. However, whilst Streep clearly takes delight in playing the family’s foul-mouthed seemingly bipolar matriarch, Robert is relegated to nothing more than delivering open-jawed reaction shots and a lot of pouting. If this is to be Roberts’ “comeback” movie after a three year absence, it frankly isn’t the showy role she presumably thinks it is. As for the supporting cast, Abigail Breslin plays a teenager who likes marijuana, Dermot Mulrooney plays an adult who likes marijuana, and Juliette Lewis plays a woman who likes Dermot Mulrooney. Chris Cooper makes a valiant effort to prop up proceedings, but the likes of Ewan McGregor (struggling with an appalling accent) and Benedict Cumberbatch (struggling with next to nothing to do besides looking worried) reaffirm your position that frankly, you’d have more fun arguing with your own family than you do sitting through this display.


It’s another great performance for Streep, but the film suffers the same fate as 2012’s The Iron Lady, with a great Streep performance plonked in the middle of a rather lifeless and uninteresting affair. There’s enough on display here to show precisely why it will have been an enjoyable stage play, but at just under two hours in length and boasting nothing more than an assortment of incredibly unlikeable characters hurling abuse at each other, it’s hard to sit through without wishing it was a stage play, purely so you could leave during the interval.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.



In it
Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts

Behind it
John Wells

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