I saw August: Osage Country for the second time last night, and it played a little better than when I caught it in Toronto about three months ago. Meryl Streep‘s performance as Violet Weston seemed funnier, flintier, a bit sadder. There’s a portion of the fabled dinner scene in which Chris Cooper‘s character offers a rambling and digressive grace, meandering to little if any effect, and Streep’s exasperated expressions are flat-out hilarious. I actually laughed out loud, which is more than I did during the Toronto screening, probably due to festival fatigue. Here’s a taste of this scene via an Entertainment Weekly exclusive video.
From my 9.9.13 review: “The Weinstein Co’s August: Osage County feels a bit abbreviated and doesn’t deliver quite as much of a full-on emotional wallop as Tracy Letts‘ Tony Award-winning stage play, but it’s strong and direct and satisfying enough to give the play’s admirers what they’re looking for. I was intrigued and attuned from start to finish. And the film certainly delivers at least five top-notch performances — first and foremost Meryl Streep as the bitchy matriarch Violet Weston (an all-but-guaranteed Best Actress nominee), Julia Roberts as her angry daughter Barbara, Margo Martindale as Mattie Fae Aiken, Julianne Nicholson as Ivy Weston and Juliette Lewis as Karen Weston.
“I would call August: Osage County a very strongly hit double…okay, a triple due to fielder error and the runner sliding in. Whereas the play was a wowser grand slam, or so it seemed when I first saw it in ’08.
“The Broadway stage version was a longish, sprawling, fully-worked-through drama of rage, dysfunction and too much prescription medication — a three-hour litany of familial boils, abrasions, laments and eruptions. The film version, directed by John Wells, does the original material justice — it’s a strong family wrestling match but it doesn’t feel as ample. It’s shorter, and it just doesn’t seem to seep in and spread out and stretch its legs as much as the play. I wanted to swim laps in the pool of it, but it’s more of a sitting-in-a-hot-tub experience. Soothing and stimulating for sure, but not as much of a workout.”