August: Osage County is just the worst kind of film. Oscar bait films, while never outwardly bad are just so eyerollingly annoying because of the checklist you can see being checked off throughout the film as they hit every cliché that the Academy loves to nominate and recognize. Yeah, and you know what, this film is actually pretty fine all around, sure it completes the checklist, but it’s at least trying. With great help from the acting, as is always necessary for these sorts of things, helps the film never be boring and at least makes things entertaining.
I was really set out to like this movie in some degree due to it being about a family coming together and basically airing out all their shit from over the years. That is my bread and butter; I love family conflict movies where people love, hate, yell and then yell some more. It’s pretty easy to create drama from this, obviously, but it’s usually pretty believable time in and time out when you have good writing and acting to articulate it.
I’m still kind of torn to whether Meryl Streep is great in this or awful. She incessantly hams it up and overacts, and although that matches the tenants of her character, it seems to be a bit much, even for Streep to pull off with some unnecessary levels that she constantly rose to. Yeah, she’s an eccentric drug addict, but it quite often turns into “Hey, look at Meryl Streep putting on this varied acting performance to get nominated for an award!!!” I think Margo Martindale does a better job by applying subtlety to her character who shares much of the same ilk. I’m not sure that Julia Roberts is completely deserving of her Oscar nomination for this, but nonetheless she is very good as the wife feeling out her separation from her husband, and being the glue between her sisters that keeps everything together. You can that she’s always been the dominant and outspoken one in the family, who doesn’t take shit and is often the one to stand up to her other family members.
It’s pretty obvious of the film’s stage play origins, and it provides a great canvas for the actors and the subject matter as well. It’s like a WWE Royal Rumble where they just shove all these great actors in a house (ring) and yell ACT (fight!)! Really everyone is up to par with their company, and this whole thing is just a playground for acting, and Oscar bait material. It’s some of the same stuff done before, but at least it’s being done competently. A refreshing tone to the film though, was it’s constant dangling threads in pretty much every storyline. Nothing was wrapped up neatly in the film, everything just dragging on, some things got better, sure, but things got a helluva lot worse for others as well. I know, that’s life, but it was nice to have the film not tie everything in a nice bow with a happy ending. Unlike this review *ties a perfectly symmetrical bow and places it at the end of this paragraph*