August: Osage County Blu-Ray Review
The tale of a dysfunctional family in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is sometimes unnervingly truthful with its portrayal. While not every family is as disorganized and emotional as the Weston’s, their story is one that’s real and at times hard to watch. Despite the bond of blood, petty differences and an undeniable mean streak can shatter the glue that have held together any middle-American family. It’s sometimes a sorrowful, universal truth that family gatherings are filled with passive aggressive remarks and false pleasantries, but AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY never let’s up on the gas of this heart breaking family collapse.
The troubles start when Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) dies. The untimely and mysterious death draws in the disenchanted and spread out Weston’s who haven’t seen each other in years. Our key players involve Violet (Streep), Beverly’s drugged-up wife who suffers from cancer and his three children, Barbara (Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis), all with their unsettling secrets. Barbara is going through a separation while trying to maintain a stable relationship with her daughter. Karen seems to be stuck in the mindset that she’s still young and adventurous despite what Father Time says. As for Ivy, I dare not reveal her third act secret.
Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep appear to be in an acting match throughout. They land blows against each other via yelling and emotional distress. While they’re the top billing of this prized acting match, others fight for the acting performance of their life. Still in the prime of her teen years, Abigail Breslin turns in one of her best as Barbara’s mopey daughter. While Lewis has been in plenty of hits and misses, this is definitely one of her best hits. I could ramble more about the brilliant performances here, but if there was an award for the greatest acting performances by an ensemble cast in the 21st century, this would definitely be the front runner.
While this is a family that constantly bickers about the present, there’s an underlying tone of mortality. Ivy feels the icy hands of death wrapping around her so she can justify her embarrassing family secret that’s made even worse by the Weston’s who know how much worse it could be. Even while Violet firmly sits at the throne, as the blunt, mean matriarch, she subtlety reflects on why she’s such a terrible person and that she was once a joyous person who merely wished to celebrate life for the love it can bring. Her unkind nature has seeped into the surrounding members of the family as they make shallow jabs, masquerading as jokes, at each other’s expense. The death of the patriarch doesn’t quell any of their fears that they’ve spent too much of their life being unhappy and that there may not be any happiness left to enjoy.
The most human, sympathetic moments come when secrets are uncovered and revealed. Despite their spiteful personalities, they can’t handle doing too much in the way of psychological damage to each other. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY takes a while to firmly plant it’s feet before sprinting off into the rotten branch of this family tree. Once you’re immersed in the drama, it’s nothing, but morbidly engrossing fun.
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY BLU RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:40:1) The rustic country tint is presented clearly. The HD presentation is gorgeous.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTSHD-MA) Considering this movie is one conversational conflict after another, it all comes down to how well that’s mixed. It’s fine, but sometimes the shouting matches are peaking towards the intolerable levels.
Feature Commentary with Director John Wells & Cinematographer Adriano Goldman: Not a very entertaining commentary. While they do offer insight they almost sound bored rewatching their movie. I know there’s only two of them, but they seemed to have a hard time connecting and interacting with one another. Long awkward silences.
The Making of August: Osage County (19:45): This doesn’t go into much of the production aspects more than it goes into how the actors managed to converse and work together. They do touch upon their own characters, but it’s a lot more interesting to hear how they all see and respect each other, especially with lots of them sending their love to Meryl Streep.
Deleted Scenes (10:47): You can play all of them or watch them individually with or without commentary from John Wells and Adriano Goldman. Majority of the scenes take place before the post-funeral dinner. They feel like extensions of previous scenes, but with so much going on in this movie, I’m interested as to why these particular scenes were left on the cutting room floor.
On Writing with Tracy Letts (7:39): This feature mainly speaks with the writer of the play this is based off of, Tracy Letts. It confirms a few of my suspicions that he based a lot of characters off his upbringings and people in his life.