Supporting cast the highlight of dark comedy

-A A +A
By Becca Owsley

“August: Osage County” has a cast full of A-list talent in a story of a family with a lot of problems. A lot may be an understatement.

The family deals with suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, incest, pedophilia, abuse, neglect and lots and lots of anger. That might not be an exhaustive list, but it’s all I can remember.

In short, it’s not a happy movie. It is described by many as a dark comedy, but the comedic moments are few and far between.

The story, based on a play, takes place in Osage County, Okla. The death of the patriarch brings the family together, which hasn’t happened in years. When they all are under one roof, fireworks explode.

The film has gained many nominations for Meryl Streep (“Hope Springs”) and Julia Roberts (“Mirror Mirror”). I will confess I am not always a fan of Streep’s acting. It seems like all she has to do is show up in a movie and nominations flow in for awards. They are not always warranted, in my opinion. 

Streep’s career has had great performances such as in “Julie and Julia” and “The Iron Lady,” but she seems to overact. In this movie, she plays a bitter mother who is addicted to an assortment of pills. None of her performances come off natural, so instead of seeing the character and her pain, audiences see Streep yelling and strutting across the screen. This doesn’t seem like one of her best performances and doesn’t deserve an Oscar nomination over the performance of Emma Thompson, snubbed by the academy for her role in “Saving Mr. Banks.”

If they gave awards for yelling and screaming at one another, this cast would win the prize.

But there were good performances in the film from the supporting cast that did not get noticed in awards season. Maybe because their last names are not “Streep” or “Roberts.”

Margo Martindale (“Beautiful Creatures”) shines in the film as Aunt Mattie Fae. Her performance is believable and humorous. Chris Cooper (“The Company You Keep”) also gives a good performance as Mattie Fae’s long-suffering husband.

Another standout is Benedict Cumberbatch. His character is the complete opposite of his role on BBC’s “Sherlock” as the meek and backward Little Charles. Audiences not only forget his British accent and believe his character, but get to hear him sing in an Oklahoman accent and play the piano.

In the end, this film leaves you with an unhappy ending for a family that never really resolves their problems. Most dark and unhappy movies tend to get get nods for awards these days, but Streep’s performance doesn’t warrant a nod this time.

But then again, she’s Meryl Streep and in a movie, so by Hollywood’s standards, she gets a nomination.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews, go to her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.

“August: Osage County”

  • Rated R for language including sexual references, and for drug material.
  • Release date: January 10 wide release, Jan. 24 locally
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: Not worth the award hype


See video