August: Osage Country is based upon the perverse comedy of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play with the same name. The play and film are set during the wake period of the Weston family patriarch Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) who has committed suicide and thus has brought all of the branches of his family back to their roots in Osage County.
The Weston family are shown throughout the cinematic performance to be extremely disconnected and respectively have little drive or desire to connect with one another, except within circumstances out of their control, such as the death of Beverly Weston. The unusual social dynamics between these family members culminate in the bittersweet post-funeral lunch scene which effectively showboats the total collapse of relations between this Oklahoma family. Violet Weston (Meryl Streep), the drug-addicted, malevolent matriarch resents each of her family members in various manners and utilises this luncheon to expose familial guises in her unhinged moment of "truth-telling".
Around the post-funeral lunch table seat Violet Weston, the three Weston daughters; Barb (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis) and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), Barb's estranged husband Bill Fordham (Ewan McGregor) and their daughter (Abigail Breslin), Karen's fiancé Steve Heidebrecht (Dermot Mulroney), Violet's sister Mattie Fae Aiken (Margo Martindale, her husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper) and their child (Benedict Cumberbatch); as well as the recently hired Native American caretaker/maid Johanna Monevata (Misty Upham).
Violet arriving late to the table is seated at its head and demands that the men wear their dinner jackets despite the sweltering heat out of respect for the formality of the occasion. Once they have obeyed her command with childish embarrassment upon their faces, she delivers her poisonous wrath to each of her family members. The viewing audience is left in bewildered silence, unable to recover from the perniciousness of her savage tongue. Struggling with the effects of oral cancer, she manifests the natural toxicity of this cancerous treatment in her bloodthirsty verbal annihilation of her family.
The film unveils a number of important familial secrets and unapologetically portrays the raw family resentments and sentiments culminating in the appearance of taboo activities such as paedophilia, incest, adultery and addiction. August: Osage County is the dysfunctional family reunion from hell, not only due to the ailing matriarch and her viciousness but also due to the emergence of truths which have been quelled for many years.
This cinematic depiction which its typical American setting delves into the dysfunctional family dynamic in a new way and effectively interrogates the complex intricacies at play in the inter-workings of the typical family unit. The film is captivating from beginning to end and hosts a feast of emotions. Definitely recommend, if only to be grateful that your mother is not half so actively evil as Violet Weston, or in fact her often referred to sadistic mother.