August: Osage County: A hard-to-watch plot buoyed by brilliant acting

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJanuary 10, 2014 

August: Osage County is about a family gathering. The patriarch has killed himself and his bitter, dying wife hosts the event. The focus is the relationship between the mother and her three daughters, and the relationship of the sisters with one another and their mother. All have deep personal problems. So do the attending fringe family members.

Sound fun? Not really.

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are getting most of the acting attention. Both are very good. Roberts is particularly impressive and hasn't been this good since winning a gazillion awards for Erin Brockovich. Streep and Roberts get a lot of help from Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The film is considered a comedy. If you find a sick, twisted, dysfunctional family and an ugly meanness that permeates the plot funny, then by all means call it a comedy. I didn't find it all that humorous. And after growing up in a dysfunctional family, watching movies about them sits at the bottom of my movie priority list.

That said, the mind-boggling talent in the movie version of writer Tracy Lett's Pulitzer Prize-winning play does make this well worth catching.

Director: John Wells

Stars: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and Benedict Cumberbatch

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for mature themes and language. It's playing at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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