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Hilarious, devastating family drama in must-see 'August: Osage County'

August: Osage County

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Roanoke's Grandin Theatre hosted a bona fide blockbuster Saturday with the premiere of "August: Osage County." After being notified of the never-before-seen line stretching down the block for the second matinee, the manager held the movie's start for almost fifteen minutes to assure that everyone got inside. The thankful crowd was rewarded with a truly astounding dramatic film that makes you laugh till you cry and leaves you emotionally wiped out.

Tracy Letts adapted the screenplay from his 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play of the same title. While he also brought us 2011's disgustingly twisted "Killer Joe," here he gives us the mother-of-all dysfunctional family dramas with with a less twisted and more realistic though still deplorable cast of characters and acts of human behavior that hit close to home for anyone with roots in the south.

When family patriarch and poet Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) disappears, matriarch Violet (a brilliantly dominating and certainly Oscar bound Meryl Streep) rallies the troops. They are led by her maritally troubled and combative eldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) with her husband and teenage daughter (Ewan McGgregor, Abigail Breslin) in tow. Middle daughter and man unencumbered Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) with her man of the moment (Dermot Mulroney) and Violet's sister (Margo Martindale) and family (Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch) plus Misty Upham as Violet's quietly strong caregiver and cook complete the motley full house. Their gathering uncovers buried resentments, reveals family secrets and sees the longest and funniest dinner blessing in film history.

The entire cast delivers powerhouse performances, but this is the women's movie. It's a story of the many messes that men make and then leave the women to clean up. The good, bad and ugly decisions these wives and daughters make and the manners in which they suffer, manage, repair, survive and sometimes escape these messes make for an unforgettable movie.