Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
A family gathering should be a happy time, a joyous time. But when the members of the Weston family get together for dinner one day, it is the complete opposite.
Because as the gravy pours, tempers rise.
As the potatoes are scooped, dirt is dished.
As the wine flows, people erupt.
This won’t be a happy family gathering. And as truths are revealed, each member of the Weston family is going to wish he / she never even arrived…
Meryl Streep – Violet Weston
Ewan McGregor – Bill Fordham
Julia Roberts – Barbara Weston
Chris Cooper – Charlie Aiken
Julianne Nicholson – Ivy Weston
Benedict Cumberbatch – Little Charles Aiken
Margo Martindale – Mattie Fae Aiken
Sam Shepard – Beverly Weston
Juliette Lewis – Karen Weston
Dermot Mulroney – Steve Huberbrecht
Abigail Breslin – Jean Fordham
Let me begin this review by stating the (as always) obvious: Meryl was bloody brilliant.
I know it may appear rather cliché to say this, but she completely stole the screen as terrifying matriarch Violet. She had the audience gasping, exclaiming, roaring with laughter. She really is one hell of a talented lady isn’t she. Whether you’re bored of her or lap her up by the beak-load (referring to her ‘beaky’ features) she contains a wonderful energy which flows non-stop through any movie.
But the thing is, she isn’t just an actress – she is a bloody good comedienne too. August: Osage County proved this, as she performed comedy moments similar to stand-up. Only – she was sat down most of the time.
I remember the very first time I saw Meryl Streep in a a movie; Death Becomes Her – 1995. This was when I started secondary school, and I remember – in order to get conversation flowing and make friends, I was running around (plump little shit I was) asking everyone, “have you ever seen Death Becomes Her?”…
Mad. But it worked. People knew what I was talking about. That “wicked film where the woman gets a hole in her stomach”. I think the next flick I saw was The River Wild – which was kinda great, kinda shit. But I was hooked on Meryl already, it didn’t matter. I must say, I am slightly jealous of Mel, being an actress whose talent spectrum is wider than Kim Kardashian’s vagina.
She’s just superb. (Meryl, not Kim. I mean, why the fuck is Kim even famous?.. oh, that’s right – she and the rest of her family are taking all the credit for what her father has achieved).
What I first noticed once all the characters were together, was how strong they were together.
Usually, you have a group of people where at least one of them makes less of an impact than the rest. Fortunately for this dark tale, each actor was as strong as the next and not one of them got left behind. For example, when Violet raged her way on to the screen, I was engrossed and entertained.
But then came Ivy – whose bland appearance and blank facial expressions got me intrigued at what her issues were..
..suddenly, in barges sister Karen whose vain and slightly greedy personality got the audience LOL’ing – and being so vocal about her issues matched the unhinged personality of Jasmine from Blue Jasmine.
But then came Barbara (Roberts) who – dare I say – was fucking amazing. I don’t normally like her. She comes across like a flat tyre – all wide mouth and doe-eyed. But just you wait for the fireworks.. its a display you won’t want to miss. And this is before the bloody rest of the family turn up!
This ensemble is a dynamic one, each actor as strong as the other (bit like Desperate Housewives) In fact, the cast of August: Osage County reminded me of one of those ball bearing desk toy things; you know how the two on the end slam into the ones in the middle, but they just don’t budge.
Make sure you sit tight and don’t make a noise during Charlie’s “grace” speech at the dinner table. It has to be the worst dinner speech ever made, and is cringeworthy from the second it begins, to the second it ends. And just when you think he’s finished mumbling..
..he continues. Much to the dismay of an enraged Violet. And the look on her face is bloody hysterical. This scene extracted a wonderfully humorous reception from the audience, as many of us LOL’d whilst being completely dumbfounded. Don’t go for a piss during this scene – you DON’T want to miss it.
This movie touches on a variety of different emotions; from sadness and sorrow to complete hilarity, all is displayed. But it is also incredibly real. As the movie continues and certain truths come to light, each character gets his / her chance to swing the mallet and deliver an explosive few minutes.
The scene where Barbara wrestles Violet (her mother) to the floor is extremely powerful; the rage pours out of the screen – someone in the cinema audience actually applauded too – as Roberts tears into her mother with scrreams that sent shivers down my spine.
Another powerful scene is the bit where Violet sits in the garden talking to her daughters about a boy she loved when she was a little girl. Its when she delivers the punchline to the story which hits home and turns the whole story raw and upsetting..
Seriously. There is a part where Charles (Cumberbatch) sings a love song to his beau Ivy. And its bloody AWFUL. It really is. I hope to God the bloke was ACTING bad singing, because his voice was out of pitch, out of tone, out of tune. I was cringing all the way through, as if watching a bad X-Factor audition.
Yes, you may want to cover your ears when he sits down at the piano.
The laughs just keep coming in August: Osage County. Although some scenes had me thinking, “shit – should I be laughing at that?”, the whole thing is another ‘life mirror’ movie; an observational comedy which picks up on real-life scenarios and they are hilarious – because they actually happen. The director blends each scene nicely into the next, delivering a movie which is hilarious one second, and upsetting the next. Especially at the dinner table – where a lovely family chat suddenly explodes into pure carnage.
The audience were loving it, especially Violet’s one-liner’s. Her acid-tongue got a good workout, as she attacked each member of the family with painful honesty and a delicious undercurrent of spite. So if you’re in need of something to make you ‘LOL’ – I would urge you to see this movie.
Does anyone else out there ever pick up on Meryl’s gasp? Or is it just me?
It doesn’t matter what character she plays, Meryl Streep as an actress has this thing where she breathes in whilst half-smiling. A sort of gasp sound. She did it in Death Becomes Her, Mama Mia, and The Iron Lady. And she did it in August: Osage County. I think it may actually be an element of her own personality she just can’t help but do – a sort of ‘Meryl channels her own reaction into the character on screen’.
Random of me to mention, but I swear to God – listen out for it, and you’ll realise what I mean.
Overall, August: Osage County is a brilliant little movie. It is observant and brutally honest, yet entertaining at the same time. It is funny, sad, involving, moving.
The cast are superb, the talent faultless, and if you’re wanting to indulge in a heart-wrenching story which can make you laugh out loud at the same time – then give this a go. A movie that can make me – and a good percentage of the audience around me – howl out loud with laughter, is a total winner in my opinion.
And one thing’s for sure – I would bloody LOVE to sit down and have dinner with Violet Weston one day..