August: Osage County

With classes finally starting up again this week, I’m starting to get back into screenwriter mode. Including all the cinema-going and analysis of everything I see.

So today I went to see August: Osage County. Basically, I’m a sucker for a star-studded cast, but when it contains Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Cooper…does it get better? I actually enjoy every primary actor in this movie, even though I recognize the weaknesses in some of them. And I think they all did an absolutely brilliant job in this movie.

The movie is a drama through and through, and if you can’t handle family drama, do not see this movie (also if you can’t handle profanity, don’t see this movie). Every imaginable kind of family drama is present in this movie. But if you do want to see a cat fight between Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, do see this movie.

I went into the movie thinking it would be utterly depressing, and from what I’ve told you so far, you probably think so, too. But surprisingly it wasn’t. It’s based on a play, and like all good literature they make you read in high school, a million terrible things happen, and when you are praying that the small shred of sanity left will prevail, it gets destroyed by the most outrageous, absurd horror you can ever imagine. But there is always, always a thin silver lining.

The thin silver lining in August: Osage County is this: no matter what how horrible things become, there are some types of love worth saving. And it doesn’t turn out exactly how you’d think for a film about a mother and daughters.

What fascinated me most about this film though, was the star-studded cast. Not because I love all of them, but because it is clearly a low-budget film that is not going to bring in huge audiences and a lot of money. Granted, not like any of the stars in this movie are running low on cash. But it showed me that highly complicated characters with unique problems are more attractive to an actor (at least an established actor) than the guarantee of millions of dollars.

Let’s just take a look at Meryl Streep. She can be in something really successful, but pretty poorly made and not terribly interesting like The Devil Wears Prada or Mamma Mia. And then she can be in something absolutely brilliant like Doubt, The Hours, and August: Osage County (don’t take me wrong, I loved Mamma Mia as much as the next woman, but I’m not going to pretend like it’s cinematic gold).

This is good news for me, because I love those complex mental dramas and that’s probably a ton of what I’m going to write. So if someday I can get Meryl Streep or Maggie Smith in one of my films, I will feel no need to accomplish anything else in my career. I will consider myself at the pinnacle of all success. 🙂

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