By Stefanie Sybens (Belgium)
Theatricality in August: Osage County
August: Osage County, a black-comedy film based on Tracy Letts Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is centered around a family filled with a lot of resentment against each other. Violet Weston played by Meryl Streep, nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, is recently widowed and is the matriarch of the family as well. She is characterized by her drug addiction and violent attitude against her three daughters named Barb (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson).
The setting of the story takes place in Violet’s Oklahoma house which gives us a clue concerning the play-like format. However, shooting in one particular location doesn’t bother the viewer at all since it is able to build up the suspense. The movie can be linked with Chekov’s last play the Cherry Orchard. Both contain dramatic elements yet brought in a humoristic way. Although both stories are centered around a broken family, the Cherry Orchard contains social critique and the announcement of Modernity as well.
Everyone in the story shares their grievances and we are privileged to capture the character’s individuality. Moreover, bringing all those kinds of personalities together seems to repair the damage. The family in itself has fallen apart towards the end yet in an effort to be able to recover their own individuality in society. The climax of the story can be brought back to Roberts and Streep’s fighting scene where the movie is able to bring forward such raw emotions. Streep shows us yet again the magic of her craft and astonishes us with several explicit break-down scenes.
To conclude, the theatricality is very much underlined during the movie but it provides us with untouched, real emotions as Stanislavski prescribed it. The cast was exquisite and showed the dynamic of a family how disturbed they all might have been on the surface.