August: Osage County (2013)
Directed by John Wells
Written by Tracy Letts
“I told you nobody slips anything by me.” ~ Violet
Painful and rough to watch, and unsettling in both the dynamics, and unfortunately the pacing of the film. There is so much talent here, and some definite breakout performances, but on a whole I felt pulled in and out of the story. At times, I was shaken up and emotionally connected, especially regarding the relationship between Meryl Streep’s Violet, and her daughter Barbara, played by Julia Roberts. Other times, though, I felt a disconnect, and often left wanting for more of some characters’ stories and relationships.
The undercurrent of dysfunction and addiction was hard for me, and all too familiar in certain places. That said, I did not intentionally distance myself from the film, I just felt that the film got off track now and again, and had a hard time resetting itself. I did not mind the uncertain ending, as sometimes I prefer that, but it was the missing pieces I wanted to see.
I know the film is based on a play, so I do wonder if it lost something in the transition of stage to screen. Again, I will say there were some stunning acting moments, and Julia and Meryl are amazing in their roles, and Sam Shepard and Margo Martindale had some definite scene stealing acts.I just truly wanted to see some of the other talent be amazing, as I know that they can. From a characterization perspective, too, I would have loved to have seen more of the sisters’ dynamics explored, more than just the taste we got in the sun room.
I love a good ensemble film, but I feel like the ensemble did not get a fair chance at playing all their parts. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch, though emotionally deft in his handling of Little Charles, kept losing me with his attempt at a Midwest/Plains accent, which only seemed to be convincing when he sang. I was ready to love this film, but for the most part it just left me unsettled, and wanting.
“Are we breaking shit now, uh? I can break shit! Hey! See, everybody can break some shit!” ~ Barbara