Thursday, September 25, 2014

"August: Osage County" with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep (2013)

This is a difficult film to watch. It deals with interpersonal relationships in a highly dysfunctional family; which is never an easy topic to tackle in a film, let alone view as entertainment. In this film version of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts, the Weston family comes to terms with the myriad of issues which confront all families. The real question isn’t about the issues; it’s about how we deal with one another concerning them, and the impact from that attempt at interaction.

The Weston’s consist of Violet, played by Meryl Streep, who is the mother afflicted with cancer and is dependent upon the pain relieving drugs she needs to take. Beverley, played by Sam Shepard, is her husband. He is a poet. They have 3 daughters; Barbara, played by Julia Roberts; Karen, played by Juliette Lewis; and Ivy, played by Julianne Nicholson. Rounding out the cast are Violet's sister Minnie, played by Margo Martindale; her husband Charles, played by Chris Cooper; and their son, Little Charles, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

The movie is not easy to watch- I had to take a short break midway through; but the plot is fairly simple. When Beverly commits suicide the family comes together; or at least they make an attempt to do so. Violet has a drug problem and Barbara is having difficulties in her marriage. Ivy; who has been the one taking care of their Mom; has a boyfriend nobody knows about, and is about to leave with him for a new life in New York City. Karen brings her fiancĂ©e with her, and he is a little bit too interested in one of the sister’s 14 year old daughters.

The friends of the family are also involved, bringing their own set of problems to the table. The only ones who seems to even have it slightly together are Little Charles and also Ivy. They seem to be their own persons and you begin to look at them as the only survivors in this whole mish mash.

The movie is well made, written and acted. But I don’t recommend it as entertainment. It was more of an investment of time. The whole point of the movie seems to be to show how we screw up in dealing with one another as human beings. Families with a chronically ill member are particularly vulnerable to this trap. The dueling emotions brought on by health issues can devastate a family. I speak from experience. This is a great movie but one that will perhaps hit too close to home for some viewers; like me.

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