August: Osage County is the story of a brutally toxic family brought together for the funeral of the patriarch. This family is so dysfunctional it’s painful to watch. Based on the play by Tracy Letts, and starring Maryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, and Benedict Cumberbatch, August: Osage County begins with Sam Shepard explaining the lay of the land to a new caretaker (Misty Upham, who plays the only sane person in the house). The lay of the land is that he drinks all day, and his wife takes pills all day, and they barely tolerate each other.
Meryl Streep is Violet, the matriarch of the family, addicted to pills (taken at least partially to kill the pain of mouth cancer she is suffering), addicted to cruelty, wasp tongued and perhaps even evil.
Julia Roberts is Barbara, the oldest daughter, who looks at her mother and sees a possible future self, one that she fears and does not want to acknowledge, but one that looms nonetheless.
Margo Martindale is Mattie Fae, Violet’s sister, who has a kinder persona than her sister, but underneath is just about as cruel.
Rounding out the tale are Barbara’s husband and daughter, Mattie Fae’s husband and son, and Violet’s other daughters. The mood in the house is dark, about as dark as it can be. The walls are painted black (or at least seemed to be to me…we watched on the computer. Perhaps on the big screen they’re merely dark dark red or something), the drapes are taped shut, lest any light intrude on the torture the family is spreading around like a virus.
We were able to view the movie before its release due to Ted’s SAG/AFTRA union membership, as it is nominated for several awards. Maya and I really liked it a lot, but Ted wasn’t quite so sure. I think I’d like to see it again, actually.