August: Osage County
In attempting to paint Midwestern women as hayseeds, Pulitzer Prize winning screenwriter Tracy Letts insults all women. No praise from this quarter, Mr. Letts.
How can a film with two Oscar nominated actresses based on an honored Broadway play be so pathetically uninspired? Even more troubling is that this disappointing film projects a wretched crew of shrewish women in a season focusing on sensational female characters as The Spectacular Now, Frances Ha, The East, Before Midnight and In a World.
Let me just say that while Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have received nominations for their performances of a drug-addled mother and her lightweight daughter, neither has a chance of winning. Streep’s drug addiction and vengeful take on everything human would have only worked if she would have become DiCaprio’s third wife in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Ms. Roberts plays one of three sisters, female Musketeers who are an insult to any women living East of the Rockies and West of the Mississippi River. Juliette Lewis is so empty-headed that she is choosing to marry a guy who is trying to seduce the 14-year old daughter (Abigail Breslin) of Ms. Roberts. Julianne Nicholson is the third daughter, a sad woman in love with her first cousin who is actually her half-brother.
Joining this group of female losers is Margo Martindale, the sister of Ms. Streep who secretly had sex with Streep’s husband, giving birth to a son destined for psychological ruin. There isn’t a scene where these women aren’t either yelling or slapping each other, and it makes you want to join them.
Ironically, the only remotely likeable characters are played by men. Sam Shepard, appearing briefly as the Streep’s forlorn husband, has the good sense to quickly commit suicide. Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper play the husbands of Ms. Roberts and Ms. Martindale, and McGregor has the strength to divorce his venomous wife while Cooper threatens the same to his after 38 years. The audience could only cheer their good sense.
In nominating Ms. Streep for a Best Actress Oscar, the Academy has again fallen prey to the Ingmar Bergman syndrome. No matter how lackadaisical her performance, they again bow in her direction, this time making the incredible mistake of failing to nominate Emma Thompson for her wonderful role in Saving Mr. Banks.
Finally, to add insult to injury, the talented Benedict Cumberbatch is forced to play the above-mentioned cousin/half-brother who appears to be severely emotionally challenged. You would swear that the poor man suffers from autism, something that has gone completely ignored by his slovenly family.
Given Mr. Cumberbatch’s phenomenal performances in recent films like Star Trek Into the Darkness (2013), 12 Years a Slave and the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, it isn’t hard to judge the table he will avoid at this year’s Oscars.