Film review: August: Osage County

August in Osage County can be scorching — with temperatures in the 90s (mid-30s in degrees Celsius) — but even in the sweltering heat there is nothing that is quite as oppressive as the atmosphere around the Weston household.

In August: Osage County, the matriarch is Violet (Meryl Streep), who has been popping pills on a regular basis for a long time and was recently treated for mouth cancer. Her hair is short, and she stumbles from room to room speaking her mind (or “truth,” as she calls it) and lobbing insults at the small group of people one would call her family.

The film does not have the most original of plots, as this family gathering inevitably leads to countless revelations, the one more stunning than the last, until there is little more to do except to head off into the taboo territory of incest. As is to be expected, Streep sucks all the oxygen out of the room when she speaks, but she accomplishes more than that: In this film, she also sucks all the light out of the room, as her sharp tongue lashes everyone around her. “Nobody slips anything by me,” she says, and she is right, but when she decides to reveal others’ secrets, we cringe because we know she is deliberately stepping over the line to make the point that she is a know-it-all.

Director John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ play keeps most of the story indoors, and he fashions this space to resemble a cave, with blinds and curtains drawn, and on the day of the funeral with the women dressed all in black, we only see their heads, and therefore their words sting with so much more power.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post. August: Osage County goes on wide release in Bulgaria on January 31.

(Still of Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Julianne Nicholson in August: Osage County. Photo by Claire Folger – © 2013 – The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.)