August: Osage County may be getting Oscar buzz, but critics were less than pleased.
The John Wells-helmed film based off of the award-winning Tracy Letts play revolves around the relationships between a dysfunctional family, led by the cancerous (literally) matriarch Violet Weston (Meryl Streep), who come back together under one roof when a crisis takes place.
There's no doubt that Streep and Julia Roberts knocked their performances out of the park, but reviews suggest that one might be better off seeing the original play than the big screen adaptation.
Here's what the critics had to say...
"There are moments when the film, which is set in a sweltering Oklahoma August in and around Violet's house, seems a bit overheated for the screen. The inherent theatricality of Violet's character, which may be well-suited to the stage, is occasionally hard to take in such intimate close-ups, despite Streep's bravura acting. The film feels claustrophobic at times, and stagy."—Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post
"And this is why weak, misdirected film versions of worthy stage projects cause more harm than the average so-so film. There are things to enjoy in "August: Osage County," mainly around the edges. But there's a serious case of miscasting at the center...See the play sometime. It cooks; the movie's more of a microwave reheat."—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"When a movie is based on a celebrated play, the first question to ask is, Does it play? In the case of August: Osage County, an adaptation of Tracy Letts' 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about an Oklahoma family marinating in its own miserabilism, the answer is yes...Yet the pull of what happens on screen came, for me, with a major qualification: I went with it, but I didn't totally buy it. The film is a contraption that spreads its darkness like whipped butter on a roll."— , Entertainment Weekly
"Each of the film's dozen actors has his or her moment in "August," but these virtuoso performances do not move us. Despite the story's melodramatic contrivances the creation of characters we actually care about is beyond this film's capabilities. Individuals on the screen certainly get worked up about secrets hidden and revealed, but those trapped in the audience will wonder why they should be bothered."—Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times
"The problem was that director John Wells did not understand the play, or at the very least, he did not make his actors understand the play, even at its most basic level. Here's one little example: The actors onscreen are under the impression that they're in a straight drama, and they're not. They're in a very dark comedy."—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle