August: Osage County

  • Film
  • Comedy
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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of playwright Tracy Letts (‘Bug’, ‘Killer Joe’), try imagining a cross between Tennessee Williams, Jerry Springer and Jeremy Clarkson. The 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winner ‘August: Osage County’ is textbook Letts: this star-studded loopy melodrama is brash, foul-mouthed, self-consciously offensive, intermittently insightful and has a gaping hole where its heart should be. That said, if you enjoy improbable plot twists, overcooked dialogue and Hollywood legends champing on scenery, this adaptation is a highly entertaining slice of American Gothic.

Meryl Streep plays Violet Weston, the shambolic, pill-popping matriarch of an old-school Oklahoma family who beckons her three daughters – angry Barbara (Julia Roberts), trashy Karen (Juliette Lewis) and obedient Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) – back home when their father goes missing. It’s not long before wounds are reopened, dark secrets come to light and everyone starts yelling at everyone else.

Streep is clearly having a whale of a time as the ultimate gone-to-seed grand-dame; manipulating her hapless family like chess pieces in some twisted game. But Roberts gives her all, too, bellowing expletives like a seasoned pro (‘Eat the fish, bitch!’). In fact, it’s tempting to see this as Roberts’s audition to be the next go-to gal for meaty older-lady roles when Meryl finally hangs up her spurs. This is by no means a good film – it’s far too crass and silly – but thanks to a remarkable cast, it is a very enjoyable one.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday January 24 2014
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Wells
Screenwriter: Tracy Letts
Cast: Meryl Streep
Julia Roberts
Ewan McGregor
Julianne Nicholson
Sam Shepard
Juliette Lewis

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening
Sandra Fenster, Ph.D

I agree that the cast is remarkable, but in some rather twisted irony (at least to me as a psychoanalyst), August: Osage County is billed as a black comedy. I’d be hard pressed to call it a comedy at all. Perhaps those that do are running (like Violet herself runs) from the brutal truth of a family so irreconcilably disturbed. Yes, Violet is as capable of humor as she is of cruelty, but the mean-spiritedness in her actions far outweighs anything funny. What we witness in this film is utter tragedy. Read my full review at


Lot's of luvvies acting their hearts out covering well trod ground, so it's rather tedious watch despite the good cast. Better suited for the theatre and the Daily Telegraph crowd over a certain age. Fortunately not too long and a predicable ending, but a good one to nap through. Meryl trying too hard and acts with her dial set to 11. Certainly one for the guys to avoid.



Juan Carlos

Its a slow somewhat dull and cliche filled film about another dysfunctional family with pretty much everyone having a number of skeletons in their closets. The best bits of the film are in the trailer. Normally it would be worth two stars for a pretty average pretentious and dull film but Streep's woman on the edge performance, ably assisted by Roberts drags it up to three. Everyone else seems to be going through the motions.