Here is another biggie I’ll miss: “August: Osage County.” I can’t say this one intrigues me as much as some of the other major TIFF entries, but how can one not be intrigued by this cast and this material?
An astounding ensemble cast — Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts and Juliette Lewis — star in this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts has spent the past two decades telling stories that are audacious and inventive, hilarious and harrowing, deeply disturbing and, in their own wicked way, heartfelt. When the movies finally discovered Letts a few years back, they brought his singularly bleak and insightful vision of the American family to a broader audience. “Bug” and the highly controversial “Killer Joe,” both directed by William Friedkin, were pitched so as to incite maximum discomfort. The star-studded “August: Osage County,” based on the play for which Letts received the Pulitzer as well as a Tony Award, is no less bracing a tale of life, death, and familial strife, but let’s just say it’s a crowd-pleaser by comparison — and one of this year’s must-see films.
Beverly Weston (played by Sam Shepard, another great American playwright, whose influence upon Letts is unmistakable) is an Oklahoma poet battling alcoholism, while his wife Violet (Meryl Streep) suffers from cancer and a new-found drug dependency. Not long after hiring a live-in caregiver for Violet, Beverly vanishes, prompting the family to unite in a search that ends with a morbid discovery. Mother and daughters (Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis) are left to deal with the aftermath, and each other — the four women have never exactly seen eye-to-eye.
The film’s first-rate ensemble cast shines under John Wells, whose direction exudes the same down-to-earth frankness and great affection for complex characters displayed in “The Company Men,” his memorable feature debut. You might not find yourself wishing you were a member of the Weston clan, but you’ll likely recognize something of your own family in them.
Photo courtesy of TIFF