Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts slug it out as a warring mother and daughter in August: Osage County, a darkly comic family melodrama based on the Pulitzer Prize winning stage drama by Tracy Letts. And while Streep’s scenery-chewing performance is richly enjoyable, it’s the equally fierce Roberts who comes off best.
Streep’s pill-popping, viper-tongued, spectacularly dysfunctional Oklahoma matriarch Violet summons her quarrelsome clan after her alcoholic poet husband (Sam Shepard) goes missing. With everyone assembled in the sweltering, stifling family home, home truths are spilled as Violet and her strong-willed eldest daughter Barbara (Roberts) go toe to toe, while other family members – including Barbara’s sisters Karen (Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), her estranged husband (Ewan McGregor) and teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) – incur various degrees of collateral damage.
The film’s stage origins tell a little too obviously in places and the acting will seem overripe for some, but fans of Eugene O’Neil, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee will surely find this rich slice of Midwestern Gothic to their taste.
Out now. Certificate 15. Runtime 121 mins. Director John Wells.
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