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August: Osage County

11 Jan

‘August: Osage County’: Evil stepsister to ‘Steel Magnolias’ gathers family for a fight

By Tom Meek
January 9, 2014


There’s plenty of thespian timber and uncorked rage in this austere melodrama about familial dysfunction and reckoning out on the plains of Oklahoma. The emotional turbulence in “August: Osage County” is devastating, so much so you could think of it as an angry twister wreaking havoc across the sleepy farmland or the evil stepsister to “Steel Magnolias,” appropriately shamed and exiled to the prairie for bad behavior.

011014i August- Osage County

If there’s any calm in the film, it’s the the one that comes before the storm, and even that’s not so pretty. It all begins serenely enough as Beverly (Sam Shepard) confesses to Johnna (Misty Upham, as the newly hired house help who has to, by job description, endure the oncoming onslaught passively) that he drinks too much, but that it’s tolerated by his wife because he puts up with her incessant pill popping. Beverly’s a dapper guy with a slight twang and a love for books. No sooner has he presented Johnna with a personal selection (T.S. Eliot) for her to read than his wife, Violet (Meryl Streep), lopes through the door red-eyed, in a bathrobe and hopped up on something. Her hair’s short, matted and falling out. She looks like an extra from a film exposing Nazi atrocities.  Continue reading