August: Osage County: An Honest Portrayal of Family Dysfunction
When I sat down to watch August: Osage County I knew very little about the movie other than what I remembered from the trailers I had seen on TV and at the theater. I was expecting a sarcastic comedy, with an all star cast, about an ill and aging matriarch, and her slightly eccentric family. What I was not prepared for was the emotional roller coaster that awaited me in this movie. August: Osage County is a study of extreme dysfunctional family dynamics and how, coupled with substance abuse, can tear a family apart. Having grown up with family dynamics similar to those in this movie, I can say I found this film deeply disturbing and moving at the same time.
I was super excited about the cast of heavy hitters starring in the movie, and knew the acting would be excellent, and the cast did not disappoint. In fact, the chemistry among the entire cast was so reflective of the dysfunctional communication patterns found in many families, at times I found myself with chills.
August: Osage County displays just how complex family relationships can be, even between those who care for one another. The relationship between Violet, played by Meryl Streep, and her three daughters is a fine example of this. Violet's compliments are nearly always double-edged swords, offering praise laced with criticism, resulting in a distant relationship with all three women. Violet's "truth-telling" does not spare any family member, as is seen in the family dinner scene after her husband's funeral. It is during this scene where Violet systematically "calls out" nearly every family member and humilates them by divulging private matters to the whole family. We are also shown during this part of the film just how out-of-hand Violet's drug abuse has become, leading her oldest daughter to confront Violet regarding the issue and to haul her off to rehab.
I was most touched by how the actors portray the struggle of family members trying to help themselves by breaking the cycle of dysfunction, but how often they fail due to the damage done by old, entrenched, toxic defense mechanisms. Violet's daughters love their mother, but must accept the fact they will never have a healthy relationship with her due to her refusal to change her ways. August: Osage County illustrates this point by letting us see how each daughter has never had a successful relationship or marriage.
There is no happy ending here, which is also extraordinarily realistic, and I have to say I was pleased with this. Family members go their separate ways, realizing they may never have a normal relationship with each other. Instead, the characters just move forward alone and sadly, accepting they are a product of their environment and are more like their mother they want to admit.
If you are in the mood to watch a movie about the real modern family and its struggles, grab a box of Kleenex or two, and rent August: Osage County. You will laugh, you will be mad, you will cry, but you will also come away with a better understanding of the problems most American families deal with on a daily basis.
Amazing movie with acting so realistic it will draw you in completely and leave you emotionally drained. Some of the best acting I have seen in many years.