Thursday, January 30, 2014

August: Osege County, a movie review

If you ever sought a seriously troubled family, August: Osege County revolves around one. Even though the scenery is of flat grassy plains they call Oklahoma, my God, this a southern saga if there ever was one. The dull color tones of the plains make a perfect background for this family where all the problems are hidden in the muted earth tones of the land. Then suddenly the family comes together after their father's death and the screen in colored with raw emotion atop the monotone hues.

Before the movie is over the plot has involved love, marriage, divorce, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, 3 daughters, 2 sisters, a funeral, an intervention, and possible incest. And, I am not giving anything away. Most of this one learns in the first ten minutes or so, if not in the trailer of the movie. The cast is deep with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Durmot Mulroney, and Abigail Breslin to name a few. 

This is not a movie of tender moments or touchy feely memories. This story is as real and funny and pretty and ugly as life is. Emotions run high but the movie is not out of control. It never drags. And, it is not a predictable story, at least it wasn't to me. With a cast of this many talented actors you can be assured there are plenty of interesting characters to the story.

Streep and Roberts carry their weight - as always, but the story is much more than them. Streep's character, the matriarch of the family, is a role that only an actor as talented as Streep could pull off. She becomes Violet Weston, a mother dealing with cancer, the vanity of aging, and relationship issues with her daughters. Years of dependence on prescription drugs has taken their toll. 

Roberts is well cast as the oldest daughter. She is a wife with personal issues herself who finds she is suddenly the one tasked to deal with her mother, someone she has not had the best relationship with in the past. Suddenly she sees that some of the characteristics she loathes in her mother, maybe be coming out in herself.

I did not walk out of theater feeling I had just spent $11 and 121 minutes of my time to be disappointed and depressed by another story of people going through a bad time. Nor did I come out whistling a Disney tune, on the sunny side of the street. Rather, I walked out knowing I had just seen a seriously good story, with a well written screen play, played by an extremely talented cast, and a family that had more problems than we did (and it is always refreshing to know things are not as bad as you think.) 

I highly recommend this movie. Both Strept and Roberts received Academy Award nominations for their roles, which they justly deserved. The movie itself should have been considered for Best Picture. In my opinion it was much better than one or two that were nominated. And, there were other categories that the Academy overlooked. But, then maybe 3 hours of watching money and debauchery on Wall Street is more entertaining than a cerebral story that brings realty with so many issues, everyone finds a few too to close to home. Perhaps not.

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