“August: Osage County” misleading and a little soul crushing, yet brilliant

By Madeline Dufek, E23

“August: Osage County,” based on the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts, revolves around the Weston family. Poet and alcoholic, Beverly Weston, played by Sam Shepard, disappears one day, and leaves behind his wife, Violet, played by Meryl Streep. Violet’s three daughters, sister, brother-in-law and nephew flock to the Weston house to comfort and care for her as she copes. With the family together, destructive fights, both physical and verbal, erupt as secret after secret unravel.

The trailer for “August: Osage County” is outstandingly misleading in that it almost promises a comedy. I walked into the theater expecting, not necessarily a film inducing bolstering laughs by any means, but at least one featuring a quirky, dysfunctional family whose antics entertained. While initially unsure of the basic plotline, I definitely did not anticipate such a, excuse my dramatics, soul-destroying film.

Each person who decides to watch “August: Osage County” should know the film is an adaptation of a play. The story very much reads like a play in that it’s full of long, dialogue-filled scenes, contains very little action, and is an overall depressing story. I left the theater feeling hopeless and ultimately terrible about life.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie didn’t technically disappoint. It captures the audience and leaves them wanting to discover each new delicious bombshell of a secret. The acting did not disappoint, which is a vast understatement. Meryl Streep, as always, delivered. She completely disappeared into Violet Weston, the vindictive, pill-addicted, cancer-ridden mother and widow. Julia Roberts portrayed the eldest Weston daughter, and delivered an emotional, harrowing performance as her character slowly realizes, to her horror, how similar she and her mother truly are. Benedict Cumberbatch played my favorite character, Little Charles, Violet’s nephew. My heart broke for Little Charles as I watched his mother bully him incessantly. Each time she spoke to her son, he slumped lower and lower, almost as if each word she spat at him inflicted a pain comparable to a punch to the gut. Every actor in this film gave some of the best performances to date as they tell the disturbing, twistedly beautiful story of the Weston family.

Did the movie live up to Oscar-worthy standards? Acting-wise, yes. Streep undoubtedly deserves the award, but probably will lose because the world is unfair. Do I recommend this movie? I think so. Ultimately the story is depressing and occasionally disturbing, yes, but interesting. Don’t go see it expecting a heartwarming story, though. Some characters deliver lines to their family members that actually made me cringe back in my seat. But go see it, because I know it will definitely be the hot conversation topic for those who have seen it, and no one wants to be the uncultured dummy who decided to see “Labor Day” instead.