True to my word, I watched August: Osage County this weekend. Everyone has heard the reviews on how this movie failed to deliver, but I actually genuinely enjoyed the movie. I may be biased by fangirl status over Meryl Streep and I may be lenient, but I did enjoy the viewing experience I had.
The film is an adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-winning stage production. The actors and actresses each took their characters on emotional roller-coasters, which I think some might have thought to be “exaggerated” acting. I don’t really think this was this case. I think this emotional roller-coaster was a by-product of the fact that the movie was originally a stage production (and it is customary for the stage actors and actresses to exaggerate the feelings of their characters in order to embody the auditorium they are in and for the audience to experience the play). I think this was also in part due to the fact that the plot was so tragic; it was a story of drugs, alcoholism, incest, infidelity, and lies. Every character in that family had a tragic story or was just a lost cause, doomed to a shit life. (As a side note, I didn’t find the movie to be as emotionally draining as I expected it to be; I’m probably desensitized by all the Tennessee Williams I have read.)
At the end of this, I felt like this was Julia Roberts’ movie, purely because her character Barbara was the central character. She was the most (if only) dynamic character in the play and she was the one involved in almost every conflict in the movie. Barbara’s interaction with every character in the movie, especially Violet (Meryl Streep) was superb. She was not the quintessential eldest sister (Elinor from Sense and Sensibility seems to strike me as that quintessential eldest sister), but her rough and brusque manner in confronting all of the family issues, including her own, made her a very memorable character. I just got to say though, that the last scene before she drives back to Colorado, her “acceptance that life is shitty but we move on” scene, was kind of just there; I didn’t feel particularly moved by it.
Finally, Meryl Streep, who was just amazing. I’m not saying it was her best performance ever, but she really was Violet: the insanity, the addiction, the slow descent into madness. The way she just picked at everyone’s grief, peeled away the bandages slowly, to make them hurt. I think it was just that saying that misery loves company; she was a lonely, miserable woman, losing touch with reality. In any case, Violet was the foil for every other character, and Streep did a really good job.
The movie was overall sad, as everyone would expect it to be, but it did have humor (tragic humor, true, but laugh-out-loud humor regardless). I enjoyed it, and I recommend it.