AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews

ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:05pm
Figured we'd compile a thread with reviews for this movie. I couldn't be more excited. Hitfix is not so positive, but tweets from Pete Hammond (Deadline) and Anne Thompson (IndieWire) are positive, so we'll see.
Here's Gregory Ellwood from Hitfix, mixed-to-negative:


The performances are all, as you might expect, very good. Streep is often both touching and terrible as Violet's drug-induced fog rolls in, leaving her fuzzy and disoriented, then rolls out again, allowing her to perform ego surgery on each of her kids with remarkable accuracy. Roberts rarely chooses to play characters who are this openly angry and hard to like, and I have to say… she gives it everything she's got. She goes right at Streep, hard, and they are well-matched here. Right down the line, the cast all seems to be determined to do well by the script, and I think they hit a lot of little grace notes along the way. There's one or two scenes with Dermot Mulroney and Abigail Breslin that feel grafted on from something else, and they tonally don't even really work with the rest of the film. Juliette Lewis is essentially window dressing here, just making faces in response to various affronts, but without much else to do. Cooper has one amazing moment with Martindale, and then he just vanishes from the film. Cumberbatch and Nicholson play a storyline that could have easily supported its own film, and while the material has the potential to land like a bomb if played right, it's oddly muted here. It's not their fault… it's just that the film feels overstuffed, like director John Wells isn't sure how to squeeze the most out of these moments.

Ultimately, he's my biggest problem with the film. I didn't see the Broadway production, but I read the play, and I think Letts has a great ear for the way families can casually savage one another. The play hurts. It is tough piece of writing, and when I read it, I couldn't help but flash back to all the moments over the course of my life where I've seen painful moments between members of my own family. No one can hurt you more than the people who love you, because no one knows you the way they do. And while Wells gives the actors enough room to do some very strong work in the film, he's not really doing anything to support or elevate the material. It's like he thinks his main job is to just get out of the way, and as a result, the entire film feels to me like a pulled punch. Even the most explosive moment in the piece is muddled thanks to the way Wells stages and shoots it. And there's a choice he makes in the final moments of the film that I feel utterly undoes the cold and brutal emotion that comes directly before it. I feel like stage is such a different experience than film that you can't just count on something making the jump because it worked well before. I've had several of my plays produced, and the difference between sitting in a live theater doing a particularly tense and difficult moment and sitting in a movie theater during that same moment is that in a live theater, there is a certain extra electricity that comes from being in the room with people while this unfolds. There's a reality to it that I think lends it a distinct visceral edge, while a movie screen can almost feel too safe, removed, and Wells isn't a strong enough director to figure out how to get around that.

Hitfix.com
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:11pm
Just as I feared. John Wells way over his head.
"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:25pm
Michael Phillips from the Chicago Tribune is negative, praising some of the acting and certain scenes, but disliking the whole thing. This one's particularly interesting, since he saw the world premiere of the play in Chicago. Playbilly, those are Phillips' thoughts as well.
***THIS REVIEW FEATURES A LOT OF SPOILERS BOTH ABOUT FILM AND PLAY***

The film’s not a disaster, or a total dullard, in the way of too many recent filmed plays (“Proof,” for one). But “August: Osage County” comes to life, to cinematic and dramatic life, only in fits and starts. And some of the questionable casting choices extend straight to the choice of director.

Behind his all-too-dutifully planted camera, director Wells seems uncertain as to how to keep the momentum of each new scene and familial smackdown humming. He favors lots of isolating, Oscar-clippy close-ups rather than a subtly dynamic ebb-and-flow of movement. The technique’s functional but stilted, even when the acting’s juicy. It may be that Wells’s interests are simply more in line with the humanistic uplift he favored all those years as one of the creative forces behind the TV series “ER.”

This is Streep’s show, which is not the same thing as saying Streep is the best thing in the film. Chewing her fingers, relishing each new triumphant zinger of disdain, she makes a series of meals out of the central role of Violet, the sadistically inclined pill-gorging cancer patient out for blood. Roberts plays as the cagiest of the three grown daughters or, as we say around Chicago, “the Amy Morton role.” If the play, in part, delineates a struggle for this woman’s soul (will she really turn into her own miserable mother?), the way Roberts plays her, there’s really no suspense; of course she won’t, because you sense all along she’ll be getting the determinedly optimistic spotlight in the movie’s final moments. (The movie’s musical score, always in a better mood than its characters, fights the material all evening long.)

Chicago Tribune
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:32pm
Kate Erbland from FilmSchoolRejects.com is very positive:

If Violet Weston is anything, it’s unfiltered, and her taste for prescription drugs (downers, specifically) means that her panache for running her mouth (and ruining plenty with it) is on full display almost all the time. As eldest daughter Barbara, Roberts is brittle and sharp-eyed, and her steady spiral downward from measured outsider to destroyed daughter is something to watch and marvel at. The film is unabashedly a dance between Streep and Roberts, but its already high performance watermark is only elevated by a heartbreaking performance by Nicholson, a weirdly funny turn by Mulroney, and the revelation of an entirely new side of Cumberbatch (he’s about as from Khan as it gets here).

August: Osage County is quite clearly based on a stage work, and while Wells and Letts occasionally take their characters outside the confines of the country home, the best stuff happens inside its clapboard walls. The film reaches its peak during a post-funeral dinner scene that finally puts all of the production’s major characters in one room, at one time, and with plenty of simmering emotions and resentments to ensure a major blowout. Doped up on any number of her various medications, Violet pushes and prods each member of her family to breaking points before pulling back just enough to get the laughs flowing again – rinse, repeat, the cycle is nearly endless even as its ruthlessly entertaining. The entirety of August: Osage County could take place around that cursed dinner table, and it would still be one the most engaging and finely tuned films of its kind.

Crisp, cracking, and increasingly more bruising with each passing minute, August: Osage County is an actor’s movie about a distressing series of events that still manages to be accessible and amusing. An instant classic of its genre, August: Osage County will be enjoyed for years to come by people who like to gawk at both sterling performances and stirring family troubles.

FilmSchoolRejects.com
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:39pm
I warned you all from the get-go. I did.
"Colbert is toast after this latest flap." -- Mr Roxy "Read 'Atlas Shrugged'." -- Gothampc
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/9/13 at 11:47pm
So it pretty much what everyone feared from the lackluster trailers.

At least my Julia is getting strong praise.
"I think Glee is way too sharp, smart, witty, clever and emotionally confronting for the masses." - Dave19 - "What's next? Snow Black and the 7 Swaggers? Shasquirta and the Beast? 101 Weavematians? Willis in Ghettoland?" - Dave19, in reference to the new ANNIE remake.
ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 12:21am
Jordan, did you read the last review I posted? They said it features a career-best performance from Julia Roberts. The performances are getting good reviews; surprisingly enough, Margo Martindale barely gets mentioned, whereas Julianne Nicholson and Sam Shephard seem to be a major focus from these early notices. The cast is not getting uniformly good reviews though, what happened to the early word that Chris Cooper was bound to be a stand out. I'm still holding out some hope.
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 12:59am
I just want to see Julia nominated again. It's been too long.
"I think Glee is way too sharp, smart, witty, clever and emotionally confronting for the masses." - Dave19 - "What's next? Snow Black and the 7 Swaggers? Shasquirta and the Beast? 101 Weavematians? Willis in Ghettoland?" - Dave19, in reference to the new ANNIE remake.
jdrye222
Featured Actor
joined:5/28/11
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 01:10am
I'm a huge Julia Roberts fan.... find her to be an underrated actress that most people just view as a movie star... Her comic timing in "My Best Friend's Wedding" is f-ing brilliant. Not to mention all her other beautiful work.
However, I hated the play... I guess Streep and Roberts will get me to watch it, but that's it. I thought it was one of the most overrated things (along with Spring Awakening) that I've ever seen.
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 01:14am
Glad to know my exact feelings on Roberts are shared by at least one other person here.
"I think Glee is way too sharp, smart, witty, clever and emotionally confronting for the masses." - Dave19 - "What's next? Snow Black and the 7 Swaggers? Shasquirta and the Beast? 101 Weavematians? Willis in Ghettoland?" - Dave19, in reference to the new ANNIE remake.
RentBoy86
Broadway Legend
joined:2/15/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 01:16am
This film should be knocking it out of the park. The play is brilliant. I think they just went about this all wrong. It didn't need all this "Hollywooding."

Who is john Wells and why was he chosen? Streep and Roberts in the same film and they couldn't get a better director?
ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 01:39am
I think when Roberts is good, she is the definition of a star in the fashion of someone like Claudette Corbert or Barbara Stanwyck. Her performance in ERIN BROCKOVICH is one of my all time favorite winners. With these kind of reviews, I'm very excited to see her in this.
A different POV from Variety:
After the preem, guests headed to Soho where the executives, actors and filmmakers accepted heavy congrats. Wells got several pats on the back for his work, including a harder-than-it-looks dinner scene that lasts 19 minutes and is a subtle but impressive feat. Wells laughed that he couldn’t stay at the party too long because he had to work on an episode of “Shameless.”

And Julia Roberts was beaming and playful as she got high praise for her performance, stretching into new territory as an actress. Supporting category? Probably. However it shakes out, awards attention seems inevitable for her, and for many of her colleagues. Meryl Streep jumps head-first into the best-actress race

Variety.com
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
logan2
Featured Actor
joined:6/15/04
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 02:36am
Thank you ray for starting this thread. This is the film I am most excited about this fall. I have my fingers crossed that the positive review is the more accurate one. And for the record, I am excited to see Meryl in this because I think she is well cast in this role. Which shows I have no disdain for Meryl per se, I just want her cast for the right reasons.

I always loved her in Marvin's Room, and felt her performance in that role gave a glimpse of what she could do as Violet in Osage. I am glad to hear Roberts is getting praise - she was the one I had doubts about. After seeing a video of Morton's astounding performance, I wasn't sure Roberts could be as angry and sarcastic enough for the role.

Very excited!
FishermanBob
Broadway Star
joined:7/9/12
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 05:19am
Unlike theater reviews where the opinions of 10, maybe 15 major publications really matter, films are reviewed by hundreds of critics, some who matter and are a reasonable barometer of a film's quality and many others who have a "blog". I wouldn't get too worked up either way over a few early reviews from a small handful of critics, especially the less accredited websites or as I call them, the aintitcoolnews.com crowd. Phillips from the Trib is legit but he specifically says his comments are not meant to be considered his formal review. Like it or not, we won't really know what the critics as a whole think until the bulk of the reviews come out on or a day before the December 25th opening and then Rotten Tomatoes will save you the work of compiling them. Given the pretty lousy recent history of translating stage success into a movie worth seeing, if they do pull it off, they will have defied the odds.
logan2
Featured Actor
joined:6/15/04
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 06:13am
I can't wait to hear Julia Roberts bellow "Eat the fish, bitch!".
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 06:30am
Can't stand Julia Roberts and her horse teeth but I will endure this anyway...for Meryl.
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 06:43am
So this movie doesn't open until Christmas Day, but they're reviewing it now in September? It's going to seem like really old news three and half months from now.

EDIT: And yes, I understand how the film festivals work. I just think it's a mistake to have a movie reviewed by all major media this far in advance of its general release.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
Updated On: 9/10/13 at 06:43 AM
Smaxie
Broadway Legend
joined:9/26/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 09:14am
I thought the play was well-acted, well-directed hooey.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 09:53am
Me too! And I always knew that once they put it onscreen even decent acting and directing couldn't hide the hooey!
"Colbert is toast after this latest flap." -- Mr Roxy "Read 'Atlas Shrugged'." -- Gothampc
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 10:06am
Hide the Hooey sounds like a euphemism for something.....
....but the world goes 'round
DottieD'Luscia
Broadway Legend
joined:7/23/03
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 10:31am
I've always enjoyed Julia Roberts as an actress, but after seeing the trailer for this film, I have absolutely no desire to see it. I didn't see the play either.
Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
Frumious Bandersnatch
Chorus Member
joined:5/13/12
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:05am
Laremy Legel of film.com seems to be the only one in the know regarding Tracy Letts' shocking Hollywood sex change...

"With a script adapted for the screen by Letts herself, director John Wells is happy to maintain the original's theatrical and somewhat formless narrative structure of the original."
"When you start looking at your watch--as I do at other people's shows--you know you're in trouble." -Hal Prince
Updated On: 9/10/13 at 11:05 AM
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:09am
For me at least it's been a long time since an acclaimed Broadway play has made an equally successful (or better) film. Lately, they've seemed to merely exaggerate the flaws, mostly due to uninspired direction and/or fairly straightforward adaptation of the source material, even if the cast is good:

Doubt
Carnage (ugh!)
Rabbit Hole
The History Boys
Proof

... and perhaps (now) August: Osage County.

I suppose Frost/Nixon came the closest, at least for me.

Well, and you might count War Horse, since it was partially adapted from the play as well as the novel.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:30am
Pretty positive words from The Hollywood Reporter:

http://m.hollywoodreporter.com/movie/august-osage-county/review/624967

(Hope that link works...I'm positing from my phone.)
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:34am
Besty, I have to strongly disagree about RABBIT HOLE. I think that's an almost perfect film.
"I think Glee is way too sharp, smart, witty, clever and emotionally confronting for the masses." - Dave19 - "What's next? Snow Black and the 7 Swaggers? Shasquirta and the Beast? 101 Weavematians? Willis in Ghettoland?" - Dave19, in reference to the new ANNIE remake.
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY Film Reviews
Posted: 9/10/13 at 11:40am
^ I loved RABBIT HOLE. I think its arguably Kidman's best performance on screen. And Eckhart's as well, for that matter. I quite enjoyed DOUBT and PROOF as well. While they did have their flaws and weren't as good as their stage counterparts, I thought they were fine adaptations.
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.

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