“August: Osage County,” writer Tracy Letts’ adaptation of his 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning stage drama, is a messy, rambling affair.
Parts of it are darkly comic. Much of it is just dark.
But there’s still a lot to like about the movie, which follows the members of a sprawling family who return home when their patriarch goes missing.
Here are nine examples:
1) The cast. You don’t often get a collection of talent quite like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson and Sam Shepard.
2) As the hateful, pill-addicted matriarch with mouth cancer, Streep spends much of the movie flipping her wig, figuratively and literally.
3) Roberts’ smile. It’s only glimpsed, briefly, but it’s still one of the natural wonders of the world.
4) The way that, 17 years after “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” seeing Roberts and Mulroney sitting around a large dinner table still makes you hope they’ll burst into Burt Bacharach songs.
5) The scene when Martindale blows into the movie like a sweaty, boozy hurricane.
6) The chance to see Cumberbatch totally playing against type. For once, he’s not only not the smartest person in the room, he’s pretty far down the evolutionary ladder from being the smartest person in the room.
7) It puts the “fun” in dysfunctional!
8) The way it almost has to make you feel better about your own family. (And if it doesn’t, you have my deepest sympathies.)
9) Come on, it’s Meryl Streep for cryin’ out loud. Do you need a better reason?