Tracy Letts AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY didn’t just win a Tony. Her play about a completely screwed up family won a Pulitzer and is widely considered one of the best American plays of the last quarter century. But does a great play make a great movie. Hmm. Not always. Meryl Streep is Violet, the completely psychotic matriarch of the Weston family. The family rushes back to their home in Oklahoma after the patriarch, Beverly disappears. No wonder two of Violet’s three daughters moved away. She is boorish, a drug addict and filled with vitriol. And she is not hesitant about being brutally honest with anyone in her path. She verbally brutalizes everyone. Her daughters, her son-in-law.. no one is safe from Violet’s wrath. Her oldest daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) is the only one who seems to fight back. Everyone else seems to shrug and just accept it. Streep is absolutely amazing. She commands the screen in every scene. Anyone who wants to know what great acting is all about, just watch her performance. It’s a master class in acting. Everyone else is good, bordering on great. The cast is a who’s who of great actors. I could list them all, but isn’t that what IMDB is for? There are two problems I have with the film. There isn’t one likable person in the bunch. Everyone is damaged. Everyone is ready to fight at every turn. But I could accept that. What really doesn’t work here is that there is more dialogue than in a Mamet play. No one ever shuts up. There is no silence. No space to breathe. I felt exhausted by it. So, the acting is first rate. But this could have been better adapted. It is like a play on film. That’s not bad, but it’s not a movie either. — Alan Yudman

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