The Hollywood Reporter announced that John Wells’ August: Osage County won big at the Capri, Hollywood Film Festival, winning the fest’s biggest prize. Last year’s big winner was Silver Linings Playbook. Meryl Streep was the big winner as well as the whole cast for the ensemble prize.
Meanwhile, Annette Insdorf penned a lovely op-ed about August: Osage County – and believes that the harsh criticism directed at the film is an example, “metropolitan snobbery”:
While some might be surprised to find August: Osage County marketed as a comedy, the film version directed by John Wells is laced with some very dark humor indeed. A real ensemble piece, it gives most of its thirteen characters opportunities to huff, puff and blow the proverbial house down, ‘Oklahoma Gothic’ style. By the movie’s end, delusions, denials and lies are bared by actors at the peak of their craft.
These include Meryl Streep as Violet Weston, the eviscerating matriarch whose husband has just disappeared. Suffering from mouth cancer while hurling toxic words at her family, Violet takes drugs as well as potshots at daughters played by Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson.
Martindale also shared Tracy Letts’ confession of how autobiographical the story was, based on the life of his verbally lashing grandmother after his grandfather’s suicide. When he first showed the lacerating play to his mother, she allegedly said, “you’ve been very kind.”
Seeing the film with an audience of 800 people turned out to be a different experience from watching it in a small screening room weeks earlier. Onscreen behavior that elicited uncomfortable smiles from critics at a press screening was greeted by waves of laughter from a crowd.
Given that August: Osage County has received mixed reviews from major urban newspapers, the film might be suffering from metropolitan snobbery. Histrionics that seem melodramatic in front of a dozen reviewers can be hilarious with a large audience. For some, the laughter that greeted the ferocious lines of the extended Weston clan might have resulted from a glimmer of recognition; for others, it was a reminder of how gifted actors can render a terrifying family dinner in terms of liberating humor.