August : Osage County (2014)

A brief moment of tenderness in an otherwise tempestuous relationship between mother Violet (Meryl Streep) and daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts).

I have to admit before watching this I was expecting a slow, over-long and over-indulgent Meryl Streep vehicle. Instead I was pleasantly surprised.

Here is a drama that is genuinely dramatic. It moves from one dramatic scene to the next, often not taking a breath in the process, but yet still managing to give breathing space to it’s characters. Their personalities and backstories are neatly fleshed-out in the way they behave and by implied events in the past. The way it should be done.

The story : A death in the family – Violet’s (Meryl Streep’s) husband, means that her extended family and friends gather at her house for the funeral and to lend support. There’s a lot to fit in: there are raging arguments, cat fights, family secrets being exposed, pot-smoking and incest. It’s funny and interesting, yet sad and tragic all at the same time.

Yes Meryl Streep is very good and despite my earlier concern rarely over-acts. However it’s Julia Roberts who impresses the most. It’s unlikely you’ll ever have seen her this aggressive and this foul-mouthed as she comes to terms with the widening gap between her and her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and the fact that yes – she is very much her mother’s daughter.

My only criticism is that it’s stagey origins (it’s based on a play) are sometimes noticeable – in the way that it does jump straight from one big scene to the next. However this could also be seen as a positive.

Overall a very good film with a quality script and a high standard of acting. Well worth watching  8/10

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