august_osage_countyA true sense of tragedy intermittently comes through in August: Osage County (2013), the John Wells film of Tracy Letts’ play, as the troubled Oklahoma characters blow it big-time.  Successfully Letts adapted it, confidently Wells directed it.

The complaint has been made that the movie contains too much Meryl Streep (as the ranting, pill-addicted Violet Weston).  I’d say that considering the thoughtful, unself-conscious magnificence of Streep’s performance, she has exactly the right amount of screen time.  Julia Roberts is stunningly impeccable as a candid and discontent wife and mother, while Margo Martindale is very good at making Violet’s sister complex.

Chris Cooper delights with common-man qualities, but the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, for all his effort, is not meant for the role he was given.  Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis are engaging enough that we miss them after they drop out of the film.  (I do, anyway.)

Wells’s movie was made a lot closer to where I live, which is OK’s Tulsa County, than other movies are.  It’s a funny-bleak work not without faults, but whose acting means a lot and is not to be underrated.