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|Originaltitel:||August: Osage County|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 121 min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
The days when the aging writer Beverly Westen (Sam Shepard) could claim to lead a happy life are long gone. His bitter wife Violet (Meryl Streep) can't live without painkillers and psychotropic drugs for a day - although the oral cancer she suffers from justifies only a small part of the pills she swallows every day. In order to be able to bear Violet at all, Beverly flees into the alcohol. Every now and then he just disappears for a few days. And so Violet doesn't worry too much at first, when her husband can't be found again. But when a corpse is recovered from the lake after a few days, it is clear that Beverly will never return. Now the family, scattered in all directions, returns to Osage County to assist Violet in her grief: the daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis), Violet's sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) and her husband Charles (Chris Cooper), as well as their son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch), Barbara's husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and Karen's new friend Steve (Dermot Mulroney). It does not take long until old wounds open up again and new conflicts arise. And little by little even the darkest family secrets come to light…
"Im August in Osage County" is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play by Tracy Letts, who also adapted the script himself. Even though director John Wells has captured some wonderful, cinematic images at the locations in Oklahoma, the film as a whole can never deny its theatrical origins. Despite the vastness of the landscape, "Im August in Osage County" is a chamber play that is carried alone by the dialogues and the actors. Sure, that works very well with an ensemble like the one Wells lured to the camera here. But even the first-class performances of Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep or Benedict Cumberbatch can't hide the fact that the events sometimes feel a little bulky and too little detached from the theater stage.
The story itself doesn't really offer easy cinema entertainment either. Even though there are some moments filled with dialogue wit and bitter humor, the confrontation of the extremely dysfunctional family with the shadows of their past is a heavy and even strenuous fare. No question, the whole thing is played great and written outstandingly. But when Violet is indispensably slurping or yelling in a rush to take pills, or Mattie Fae doesn't miss an opportunity to humiliate her son Little Charles, then some viewers will probably wonder why they spent money to witness this dreary hustle and bustle.
Whoever can get involved with the theatrical style of the production and the slightly depressing basic mood, "Im August in Osage County" will also be able to unfold all its strong sides. And the movie has a few of those. The already several times mentioned class of the first class cast saves the movie even through its drier moments. And some scenes are full of an almost bizarre hysteria, that you can't resist a hearty, but also a bit desperate laugh. Such moments help to solve the basic heaviness a little and to give the event something like entertainment value. And in the end the whole thing definitely has a good side: no matter how annoyed you may be by your own family, after spending two hours with the Westen family in Osage County, you're just thankful not to have met Barbara, Ivy and Karen as badly as you did.
The bottom line is that "Im August in Osage County" is a good, sometimes even very good film. But it's also a very bulky, heavy work that you have to get involved with in order not to storm out of the cinema after 30 minutes, completely unnerved. Those who succeed in doing so will be offered first class acting cinema with some outstanding moments. So if you like it a little more demanding and extremely dysfunctional, you can confidently visit the Westen family in Osage County. Worth seeing with small restrictions!
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