If you’ve been in the market for a gut-wrenching, side-splitting drama with an all-star cast since Steel Magnolias left us sobbing in the graveyard in 1989, I’ve found your new favorite movie. It’s August: Osage County.
I was only 2 years old when Julia Roberts stole America’s heart only to have Sally Field rip it to shreds in one of the very last scenes. But, as soon as my parents deemed me mature enough to handle Ouiser Boudreaux’s crude humor, I became an instant fan. I will never forget the hilarious banter, the big hair and the cruel reality of sickness and death. Call me morbid, but even at a young age, I enjoyed dramas with strong monologues, deep relationships, brutal honesty and especially endings most people would deem anticlimactic. Real life isn’t always eternal happiness and unicorns. I love screenplays which depict such honesty and have me inhaling a whole box of Snow Caps whilst watching. I’m not saying I love doom and gloom, but I do believe in a potent emotion made stronger by fear, jealousy, loyalty and loss.
Sometimes the feelings we are most ashamed of are the ones which evoke us to tears and bring us to our knees.
When I watched August: Osage County, I felt the same way I did the first time I watched Steel Magnolias. Seeing Julia Roberts in a role 25 years removed brought the experience full circle. I don’t want to spoil aspects of the movie, but I want to tell enough so as to implore you to see and feel the film. Set over a period of several depressing and sweltering days in the plains of Oklahoma, a family gathers to deal with the loss of a patriarch. The dysfunctional family is both frightening and endearing. In an odd way, their interaction is somewhat familiar to me, as I’m sure it is to many viewers, no matter the state of their own family life. With the staggering amount of plot line struggles in the story, no one will leave the theatre without empathy for at least one of the character’s raw realness.
Marriages struggle, addiction overpowers, jealously invades, innocence is ruined, relationships are challenged, altercations break loose, togetherness is attempted, freedom is found and loss is inevitable.
When the credits rolled, I was left with no loose end tied, yet I was satisfied. Why? Because I saw real life depicted, and though it be fictitious, I knew there were true life stories behind the screenplay. Those people were heard. It was a movie in which I wondered what emotion to display. As I watched fights break loose or secrets told or disdain seeping from a mother’s lips, I didn’t know whether to laugh at the awkwardness, cry with those hurt or simply remain silent. That’s when I think writers have won. Instead of cookie cutter predictability, we are given dramatic dialogue and a choice.
Deciphering what we feel is what makes us smarter people. Being brave enough to admit what we feel makes us stronger people.
Do yourself a favor and go see August: Osage County.