I don’t generally concern myself with movie reviews. I have never pondered writing one myself. But I had seen a few about August: Osage County and noted the negative feedback. “Depressing.” “Not funny at all.” “The trailers were the best part.”
I think these folks are missing the point. This isn’t “The Lego Movie,” it’s not a love story and it definitely is not a comedy. At no point does Will Farrell appear to lighten the mood. What this movie is, is a study in our relationships and how women react to life and the situations they find themselves in. Streep and Roberts embody their characters so seamlessly, you may have to remind yourself, they are acting. They aren’t pretty, in fact, though I suspect there was make-up involved, it appears they are barefaced. At one point, Streep quips, “The only person who’s pretty enough not to wear make-up is Elizabeth Taylor – and she wears a ton!” It’s a rough, raw look at a family in crisis. Roberts is dealing with middle-age marriage breakdown and a snotty teen-aged daughter. She is a “Jeckle and Hyde” mix of heartbreaking beauty and hard-edged features that just don’t seem to coexist happily. Streep is stripped down to brutally ugly decay, juxtaposed with a grace only she can muster.
Rather than ruin the plot for those who have not seen the movie, I will stop here and focus on how it changed my perspective over the next few days. Snippets of the dialog and flashes of scenes came to mind as I went about my life. I saw Streep in the grocery store, she was that woman admonishing her adult daughter. I noted the woman at the dump, hauling her recyclables to the bins. Her hair was dull, her outfit frumpy but beneath her perpetual scowl were perfectly chiseled features that had forgotten how to form a smile.
I wondered why this performance, so true to life, struck such a negative chord. The short answer is easy, the mainstream would rather see Streep as the dragon lady in “The Devil Wears Prada” and Roberts as the hooker in “Pretty Woman.” I think this was too close to poetry; gritty, real and thought-provoking, for the average viewer. I understand if your taste runs to something lighter when it comes to the precious few hours we all have for entertainment. I just hope these actors will be recognized for this piece of work. To me it was a perfect example of art imitating life.