August: Osage County It is not often that you see the brilliant Meryl Streep outdone in the acting department but, for me, Julia Roberts steals the show here and does just that. After a family tragedy, the various members of the Weston clan return home to their parent's Oklahoma house for a meal that turns in to a battle of the matriarchs, where dark secrets and family tensions are brought to the surface. Based on a play and screenplay by Tracy Letts, the film centres on this one meal and its aftermath for the majority of the film's two hour run time. It is testament to the great script and superb performances that such a limited backdrop produces such an engaging film. There is lots of acting to be seen here. So much so that Benedict Cumberbatch manages to get involved. The controlling yet out of control mother ( Streep ) is embittered by addictions and illness and wastes no time in telling her children and family exactly how she feels about them, spewing truths and hatred over dinner. Nobody could have played that part better and Meryl Streep relishes every moment. Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson play the daughters on the receiving end of these outburst and before long, the sisters begin to fall (further) apart. It is eldest daughter, Barbara ( Roberts ) who steps up and takes on her mother's wrath whilst attempting to become something better in the process. We rarely get to see Julia Roberts working so hard for a role. There is tragedy, tenderness, hatred, acceptance and forgiveness all on offer and, whilst the film is a hard watch, it is rewarding. Oppressive and intense with outstanding performances from the whole cast, this is a serious film full of serious acting. Go Julia.
8.5 out of 10
Cert 15 ( UK )