"August: Osage County" is simply superb, but I wouldn’t classify it as a comedy, as the Golden Globes is doing; more like "Steel Magnolias" meets "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
IMDB very rightly is listing "August: Osage County" as similar to "50/50", "The Descendants", and "Argo", and those aren’t untoward comparisons. It’s extremely funny at times but amid being deadly, deadly serious; even emotionally violent on several occasions.
Do we under any circumstance call amusing an entire extended family’s implosion from years of addition, secrets, betrayal, and the longterm effects of growing up in this wreckage? When it’s being presented with all the venom that such circumstances generate in actuality? ("Entertainment Weekly"‘s Owen Glieberman turn the most perfect of all phrases, calling it a family “marinating in its own miserablism.”) Not that laughter can’t be found in the most painful situation (again, "50/50"), but this ain’t one of those. Not by a longshot. These poor people are trying to keep from going down for the third time, and not all of them make it.
Director John Wells’ direction of Tracy Letts’ script (based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play) gets off to a bit of a bumpy rhythm, as screen versions of stage are wont to do, but Wells contains it early enough that it settles into a nice cinematic groove.
Meryl Streep is at the top of her game, and Julia Roberts has invented a whole new game for herself; I don’t particularly care for her work, but this time she demanded credit where credit is due, and I happily grant it.
The entire cast enjoy perfect chemistry, and if you’re looking for award-worthy cinematic engagement, you cannot go wrong here. Tracy Letts is a genius. But buckle your seatbelts…
Story: When one half a deeply addicted married couple goes missing, their equally deeply troubled daughters show up, families in tow, for what becomes the, well… mother of all family showdowns.
Directed by: John Wells
Running time: 121 minutes
Houston release date: January 10, 2014
Tickets: Check Fandango, IMDb, or your local listings
Screened Dec 16th at the Sundance Cinema in Houston TX