August Osage County (2013)

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Joe Giambrone
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I’ve watched both the play and the film now, and I remain confused about all the conflicting themes. Also, the story is a real downer, a negative take on human nature in my view. So, it’s hard viewing, and doesn’t seem to have wowed them at the multiplexes.

The cast in the film is stellar, of course. You’ve got Meryl Streep run amok, Julia Roberts ready to snap, Juliette Lewis, Cumberbatch and other pros. It’s all very well acted, with sharp dialogue and loads of family conflict. The post-funeral dinner is a crowning achievement of the piece, really ratcheting up the notion of a dysfunctional family.

It has much going for it; so why does it feel like such a drag? The matriarch, Streep, is a horrible person, a product of childhood abuse and poverty. A theme concerns how parents pass on their faults and fucked up baggage to the next generation.


Interestingly, with three very different sisters in the next generation, and a half brother to boot, they have all responded quite differently to the mad matriarch. Naturally there is a great variance between the parents and offspring. The missing father is another factor, a different response to a similar upbringing, different from Streep with his choices and with his children.

I ought not give too much away. Some changes happened that improved the film, except perhaps for the very ending. The film’s ending is missing a scene. The play ends on a bang, an over the top moment that builds up with a lot of drama. The film changed this, as it isn’t really very plausible/realistic and wouldn’t likely play out right in a movie.

Only, when they cut that scene and neutered what they did show, they decided to replace it with something far less dramatic and more generic. They took away the play’s final thunder and forgot to script something equally as powerful to finish on.


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