Friday, March 7, 2014

August Osage County, English Hollywood Film Movie Review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * * * 1/2

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August: Osage County(English)Rating: *  *  * ½  We saw a similar story happen in Mrinal Sen’s ‘Ek Din Achanak.’ But this film is based on the darkly humorous Pulitzer and Tony-winning play by Tracy Letts and directed by John Wells, this unexaggerated film version mostly captures the stormy interplay between family members essayed with corrosive aplomb by a top-notch ensemble of actors.
        
English film review
Johnson Thomas
Film review: August: Osage County:
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts,Abigail Breslin,Juliette Lewis,Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale
Director: John Wells

Rating: *  *  * ½
Running Time: 121 mins.


The story is about the Weston family — Beverly and Violet’s three daughters and their various menfolk, as well as Violet’s sister and brother-in-law.
     
"Life is very long,", says folksy poet patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard)as he quotes T.S. Eliot while in the process of hiring a caretaker, a native American woman Johnna(Misty Upham) and he goes on to tell her that he’s a drunk and his wife takes pills. According to him, that’s the bargain they struck and stuck to it, they did.
 
Violet(Meryl Streep), his wife , has cancer of the mouth and therefore the doped look with scanty stringy hair.  After all she’s heavy on the pills , smokes and has also undergone chemo.  Soon after this intro, Beverly suddenly disappears and the dysfunctional household falls apart. Beverly’s body turns up in a lake, an apparent suicide it’s whispered.  The extended family converge and skeletons come flying out of the closet(of course not literally).
 Revelations about adultery, divorce , mistaken paternity and incest are par for the course while the homestead and it’s members go about haranguing through his last rites.
 
The action is not all in house. It moves to the flat sun-parched farmland that surrounds the stuffy homestead haunted by the ghosts of grudges past. Well’s uses Letts' dialogue for most of the film – seeing that it’s raw and blistering and creates wounds so deep that it would take a decade or more to heal. In fact the entire is far more verbose than a cinema demands. The visuals take second place to the enactment with Streep as the spiteful matriarch giving it her all. Julia Roberts, on the other hand, is quite unlike her sunny, smiley, pretty self. A deglam look helps her cut across swiftly into your heart, as  the resentful though reluctantly devoted eldest daughter Barbara. The sparks fly between the two and that’s really the most dramatic moment in this film.
Ewan McGregor (Bill Fordham), Chris Cooper (Charles Aiken), Abigail Breslin (Jean Fordham), Benedict Cumberbatch (Little Charles Aiken), Juliette Lewis (Karen Weston), Margo Martindale (Mattie Fae Aiken), Dermot Mulroney (Steve), Julianne Nicholson (Ivy Weston), Sam Shepard (Beverly Weston) and Misty Upham (Johnna), co-conspirators to this intra-family duel of sorts, are all in their element.

The film invariably yo-yo’s between heavy melodrama and camp and that affectation separates it from being a high-yielding family drama. In this tenor it’s merely a stinging one!

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