Published on February 12, 2014 | by Juliet Atto

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Film review: August: Osage County

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The film is based on the Pulitzer Award-winning play by Tracy Letts. [Bethe Dabbs]

Small town, big family and even bigger drama. The comedy-drama August: Osage County explores the relationship between a family that has drifted apart as they come together under unfortunate circumstances.

The film’s stellar cast, led by Academy Award-nominated performers Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, show their A game.

Streep plays the mother of the home, who has been diagnosed with mouth cancer and becomes a prescription drug addict. She calls for her family to come back to their childhood home after her husband, the father of her children, mysteriously leaves her.

She particularly hopes her favourite daughter, played by Roberts, will return home after she left the small southern town and was reluctant to go back.

Actress and musician Juliette Lewis plays the more naive younger sister, who is about to get married to the creepy yet entertaining Dermot Mulroney. Highly talented British actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays the unambitious cousin and Ewan McGregor plays Roberts’ husband.

Risk

These actors are reduced to mere background characters, only there to serve Streep and Roberts.

However, that is the risk with ensemble casts and a real shame for actors like Cumberbatch and McGregor who don’t get to showcase their talents in a big, award-nominated film such as this.

The film is based on the Pulitzer Award-winning play by Tracy Letts, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, with the theatrical background being apparent in the movie’s narrative.

The shots in the film are captivating and the heat of the small southern town can almost be felt through the screen. But director John Wells got a little carried away, making the film, at two hours and 10 minutes, longer than necessary.

Although beautifully acted, August: Osage County at many times careers off into melodrama and clichés that have been seen far too many times in the family drama genre.

August: Osage County is in cinemas now.

 

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