Review Roundup UPDATE - More Critics Weigh In on AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
The film adaptation of Tracy Letts' AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in September and will hit theaters nationwide in January.
The drama, starring an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Margo Martingdale, Andrea Riseborough, and Ewan McGregor, follows the Weston family whose lives have been splintered in many directions until their alcoholic father's disappearance brings them back to their childhood home and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
Since our original Review Roundup earlier this month, additional media sites have weighed in on the highly anticipated drama. Let's see what the critics have to say:
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: Another way to think of "August: Osage County," which was directed by John Wells and adapted by Tracy Letts from his own play, is as a thespian cage match. Within a circumscribed space, a bunch of unquestionably talented performers is assembled with no instructions other than to top one another. One twitchy confession must be excelled by another. The same with smoldering, sarcastic speeches, explosions of tears, wistful jags of nostalgia and imperious gazes of disgust.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Tracy Letts won every big theater prize, from a Tony to a Pulitzer, for his enthralling, sprawling three-hour-plus play about the squabbling Weston clan of Oklahoma uniting for the funeral of dear old suicidal dad (Sam Shepard). The clumsily edited film, directed by John Wells, best known for TV producing (ER, The West Wing), cuts an hour of plot and a s**tload of humor and heart. It's a shock Letts did the script; his text was worth fighting for. You feel something's missing.
Ian Buckwalter, NPR.org: "We shouldn't be here." That's the sense you get watching August: Osage County - that you're peering in on moments so intimate and painful that no one should witness them, perhaps not even those who are a part of it.
Justin Craig, FOX News: Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts amaze alongside this year's best ensemble cast in a scintillating familial cock fight. Tracy Letts' adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "August: Osage County" is catnip for actors and raises dysfunction to a whole new level.
Marshall Fine, The Huffington Post: Adapted by Tracy Letts from his Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, this John Wells film condenses and yet expands upon that theatrical experience, distilling three hours of stage time to two hours on the screen without losing any of the impact, stinging humor or gasp-provoking revelations.
David Edelstein: Vulture: August: Osage County has no subtext to speak of; it's all bellowed into your face. On Broadway, its Chicago actors knew how to modulate their performances and together build the tension, beat by beat. But director John Wells fractures the action, jumping back and forth between stars in close-up yelling at one another in the style of a more profane Steel Magnolias.
Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter: The dialogue-heavy dramedy ... unfolds largely like a filmed play... What are we supposed to come away from this experience thinking and feeling? That we are fortunate in that our problems are not as bad as these people's? I'm not sure that's going to prove enough for most awards voters, particularly in such a competitive year.
Scott Foundas, Variety: "There are no surprises - just lots of good, old-fashioned scenery chewing - in August: Osage County, director John Wells' splendid film version of playwright Tracy Letts' acid-tongued Broadway triumph about three generations in a large and highly dysfunctional Oklahoma family."