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The Daily Tar Heel

Movie Review: August: Osage County

August: Osage County

“August: Osage County” is a star-studded character study that is packed with drama, biting dialogue and strong performances. After a family death, the Weston family pours into one crowded Oklahoma. They’re disastrously intertwined, with each member bringing unique problems to the mix

Meryl Streep is given plenty to work with as Violet, the brutally honest matriarch of the family, who suffers from mouth cancer and a debilitating addiction to pills. Violet is a classic tragedy. Her greatest assets — her honesty, independence and unfaltering strength — are the traits that could lead to her downfall.

“August: Osage County” is billed as Meryl Streep’s movie. She’s the focus of the trailers and one might expect this to serve primarily as a platform for her phenomenal acting. While Streep is as great as expected, Julia Roberts is just as much the star of this story.

Roberts is fantastic as Barbara , the eldest of Violet’s daughters. Barbara is a hardened product of her mother’s influence. She is passionate, demanding and sharp, and though she’s the most like her mother of any of the children, she does her best not to be.

Based on an award-winning play of the same name, this film adaptation still feels a lot like a play. It’s heavy on dialogue, the scenes are long and every word is tinged with drama and tension.

It’s all so heavy that the movie sometimes feels uncomfortably packed. There’s so much acting, so much screaming and shouting, that it gets exhausting.

But through the smoke, there are moments of resigned clarity that transcend the film’s flaws. Despite sometimes feeling too heavy and slightly overwhelming, “August: Osage County” serves as a platform for fine acting and impressive storytelling. If the setting feels tight, it’s because the actors fill the space so well.

It’s a heavy film with few spots of light and no chance of a happy ending, but it’s certainly worth seeing.

— Schyler Martin

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