Movie Review: August: Osage County

August - Osage CountyTitle: “August: Osage County”

Director: John Wells

Writers: Tracy Letts

Stars: Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

If there’s one movie that had the most disingenuous marketing campaign, it would be “August: Osage County.” The campaign made the movie seem like it’s a comedy about a dysfunctional family, but it’s only funny in a few moments and the rest of the time it’s a very serious drama.

“August: Osage County” follows a dysfunctional midwestern family who comes together when the family patriach disappears and is found dead. Although “dysfunctional” really doesn’t begin to describe this family. Their mother (Meryl Streep) is addicted to prescription painkillers, the eldest daughter’s (Julia Roberts) family is falling apart, another daughter i(Juliette Lewis) is marrying a sleazeball and refuses to see him for who he really is, and the last daughter (Julianne Nicholson) is in love with her cousin (Benedict Cumberbatch).

It’s a performance piece based on a play which I understand is much better than this movie, although I haven’t seen it. While the performances are incredibly strong from all involved, nearly every character comes off as mean. Not a single character in this movie is likable and they all seem to have a chip on their shoulder. This is a major problem in a heavily character-based movie. With few redeeming qualities. We’re not sure who to root for because we don’t like anyone we’re watching.

The drama is very good, and the dialogue is cutting. Letts clearly has a talent for writing dialogue, but not for creating likeable characters. There’s also the creep factor that comes in at a couple of points, bringing up subjects such as pedophilia and incest. I’m not opposed to those subjects being handled in movies, but in the right context. Here it feels like it’s being used just to creep the audience out.

This film has some great dialogue which I’m a sucker for, but it can be difficult and painful to watch. The characters all come off as mean and self-centered which makes the journey through this movie a slog that is difficult to enjoy and find true redeeming value.

“August: Osage County” earns 3 out of 5 stars.

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