Let me preface this article by saying, I am in no way a big Meryl Streep fan. I find the fawning over everyone of her performances nauseating. That aside, her latest film may just be her crown jewel, and thats a mighty heavily jeweled crown. Though it should be and will be noted later on, her performance is not the only outstanding one in the film.
August:Osage County is the story of a highly dysfunctional family that gets together when their patriarch, Beverly (Sam Shepard) who is the father and mental and emotional center to the whole family, goes missing. Violet (Streep) has to endure her three daughters reluctance to come be with her during this trying time despite her mean disposition and down right awful attitude and alcohol and drug abuse. Her oldest, Barbara (Julia Roberts) is the oldest and has the most issues with her family and just as much going on in her collapsing life. The youngest, Karen (Juliette Lewis) is beyond oblivious to her life and what constitutes happiness. She maintains the most fake happy personality of them all. The middle child, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is the one who feels the need to keep peace and keep her mother as happy as possible, which proves to be an impossibility. When Beverly’s disappearance proves to be a death the family is then forced to grieve together and discover they are now on their own to make big and small decisions in their lives and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go.
Barbara’s character most closely resembles Violet’s and she knows this, which makes the dynamic between Streep and Roberts the most compelling throughout the film. Barbara is forced to recognize this connection that she knows exists but hates that she’
’s a part of.
Roberts without question gives her best performance since her Oscar winning role of Erin Brockovich. According to her own telling, she wore zero make-up for the film, which lends to the hardship of the character and the life that has been lead. Her performance is flawless and in no character in film this year was I more drawn to.
That brings us to Meryl Streep. The transformation into the pill popping, cancer living and evil mother of Violet is one of the most incredible changes and roles that make you look at an actor or actress differently. I consider this to be her best film in over 30 years, which would include film like, Silkwood, Kramer vs.Kramer, The Deer Hunter, Sophie’s Choice and Out Of Africa. She has only serious competition from Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
The film is no feel good, memory lane type story. It’s upsetting and shows the realities of families that may have been better off not being family members. The truth is what lies underneath and how the awfulness of what exists makes us into the people we are yet we are never to old to make a change. It is a film that pulls you into each family members life and doesn’t let go. For fans of film making and acting this is the film of the year.