august: osage county, 2013 (dir. john wells, starring: meryl streep and julia roberts)
this film based on the stage play is about a group of women in a highly dysfunctional family. at the center of the dysfunction is meryl streep as the matriarch. and she is, as always, mind-bogglingly amazing. it’s kind of annoying how great an actor she is. she can totally embody a character and make you forget about meryl streep. she is this other person for those hours. and what a character she had to work with in this film. violet weston is a strong, bad-mouthed, pill-popping, cancer-ridden, abrasive, southern woman. she flits between playing the victim and the aggressor throughout. you empathize with her at times and then other times you see her as a monster. even though streep shines, she does not outshine some of the supporting cast. there are great performances from chris cooper, benedict cumberbatch, julianne nicholson, ewan mcgregor, margo martindale, and juliette lewis. julia roberts was not bad as the opinionated oldest daughter, but you can see the disparity of talent between the other thespians that are present. i believe the term is chewing the scenery. her portrayal of the bitter barbara weston was exaggerated and overly dramatic. some could accuse streep for the same offense, but she knows how to make it work.
the look of the film is real. it’s the end of a hot, humid summer in oklahoma and you can see the sweat and the dewey faces. the make-up was real. you can see these women are aging, are grieving, are stressed. i like when details like that steep the film’s visuals in reality. the music was good, ending with a twangy song by kings of leon that seemed to echo the mood of the film. but, it couldn’t help the strange, abrupt ending.
often times, films that are based on stage plays can feel like a stage play on screen. i, personally, am not a fan of that and this film feels like that. it could be because the playwright also wrote the screenplay. i think there is a time and a place for that stage play-like story and that is on a stage not a movie screen.
eye roll rating: 7