Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TIFF 2013: August: Osage County Earns Mixed Initial Reviews

Apparently, the translation from stage to screen was a bit rough for John Well's and Tracy Letts' August: Osage County. Apprently most of the cast hits their marks, but the reduction in length of the movie from the play's original run time has left some of the emotional impact on the cutting room floor. Can it still be an Oscar contender? Of course it can. It maybe not be the biggest contender of the year, but Meryl, Julia, Margo, and other cast members are sure to be in play, and who knows, a broader critical consensus could play to different results. Most importantly, it has the big Christmas release where its star power could turn into decent buisness, and it has the Weinstein Co. behind it. Never forget The Reader. Anything is possible. Here are two reviews below, one more negative, and one more positive.

Eric Kohn from Indiewire appreciated the actors, but felt that the translation to film fell a bit flat:

"There's enough palpable acting technique battling for screen time that a lot of it gets lost in the shuffle. Upham's Native American maid barely receives more than a few perfunctory lines, while a restrained Cumberbatch only appears long enough to play a sweet love song to his cousin-lover before devolving into a contrivance. His ultimate fate stems from one of many revelations used to make "August: Osage County" tremble with histrionic density. Wells deserves credit for juggling countless subplots without deflating the vitality of the material. The movie's so busy with squabbling that it's best appreciated as a collage of flawed intentions rather than their collective outcome. "You people amaze me," Barbara exclaims at one point, and she speaks for all of us."

David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter, was a bit more excited for the final product, but still had a hint of hesitation:

"Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play about the unique capacity for cruelty of the modern American family, August: Osage County, is a fat juicy steak of a drama marinated in corrosive comedy. Arriving on the screen with mixed dividends from an all-star cast, the film doesn’t shed its inherent theatricality, stringing together speeches and showdowns peppered with nuggets of stagey dialogue that resists being played in naturalistic close-up. But it’s nonetheless an entertaining adaptation, delivering flavorful rewards in some sharp supporting turns that flank the central mother-daughter adversaries."

Overall, I am still excited by this film. I can handle a flawed script if the actors chew the scenery the way they apparently do. Plus anytime you can get Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, and Benedict Cumberbatch on one screen, you had me at hello.

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