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August: Osage County

Old 02-13-2014, 12:32 PM
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August: Osage County

I saw a really amazing movie last weekend. Rotten Tomatoes describes the movie like this: OSAGE COUNTY tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

The movie opens to a husband (Sam Shepherd) explaining things to a new housekeeper...explaining that his wife is a pill addict, and that her antics are "interfering with my drinking." Then in staggers a completely smashed and completely convincing Meryl Streep.

The cast is filled out with too many really, really good actors: Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch &
Misty Upham.

At first, the audience titters at every mention of pills of alcohol. Even not knowing what was coming, the laughter felt out of place. What was coming was a train wreck. Suicide, child abuse, pedophilia, incest, death, divorce, family secrets, emotional bullying, greed, lying--pretty much every thrill ride possible in a completely dysfunctional family.
The laughter continued, I started laughing myself once I realized that I was watching a movie that was really capturing the effects of alcoholism and addiction on three generations of a family. It wasn't "oh, that's funny" laughter, it was, rather, the kind of laughter you experience after getting off a really scary roller coaster.

I thought the movie was powerful, emotional, and thought provoking. My wife, who has a program, but who still hasn't really dealt with her own childhood spent with a mother addicted to Valium, walked out in tears. Your experience may vary.

Anybody seen it?
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:36 PM
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Thank you for that review, Matt. I haven't, but I've heard very different reactions to it. One friend who has, well, lived long enough to see the underbelly of human relationships loved it and said "it's a realistic depiction of life in a dysfunctional family, and if you've experienced that, you can recognize the struggles." Another friend who is younger and very idealistic ("other people have problems" kind of person) was ANGRY after seeing it -- she said it was a total waste of time and money and she couldn't understand why anyone would want to make a movie that depressing.

I'm waiting for it to move on over to the $3 movie theater because I'm cheap...
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:46 PM
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I haven't, but I'm intrigued. Thanks for the review!
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:52 PM
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I grew up in that county and own 40 acres out there. That home the movie was filmed in is the family home of friends of ours. However, I dont know if I can see that movie, esp. with AH. And ya know, for whatever reason, everytime I sit and watch tv with AH now, there is always a commercial, jokes, storyline -- SOMETHING -- revolving around alcohol or addiction!! what the crap! its so uncomfortable.
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Old 02-13-2014, 01:22 PM
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I was lucky enough to see the original Steppenwolf production of the play on which this movie was adapted. I have never been so profoundly moved by anything...and I see theatre all the time.

I began crying about fifteen minutes before the end of Act One. I didn't stop through the entire fifteen minute intermission, nor through the entire second act. I finally tapered off during the second intermission, but started back up again halfway through the third act.

Come to think of it, I was still with XABF at the time and we saw it together. I don't know that I was quite processing all the emotion the story (and performances -- Amy Morton, OMG!) stirred up or why, but I do remember him acting rather embarrassed that it hit me so hard. We'd stay together another few months after that -- but maybe if I'd really dug into why I was so affected I would have ended things sooner.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:09 PM
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A friend of mine dragged me to see it without having any idea what it was about except I was impressed with who was in it, with that said it was the worst movie I had seen in years! I felt like I was hit by a train and never saw it coming. When the movie was over everyone just sat in their seats reacting like WHAT JUST HAPPENED! I've lost so much of my life to chaos, dysfunction, anger, violence, alcohol addiction with my x and father that seeing it on the big screen made me feel sick not impressed.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:17 PM
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I want to see this movie a lot. I read a great essay that mentioned this movie and the Julia Roberts character along with the "strong woman" tropes that we so love in the US, basically saying that what we consider a "strong woman" is someone who has been burdened with responsibilities and pain outside of her control and somehow kept it together. In other words, trauma. A lot of trauma.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
I want to see this movie a lot. I read a great essay that mentioned this movie and the Julia Roberts character along with the "strong woman" tropes that we so love in the US, basically saying that what we consider a "strong woman" is someone who has been burdened with responsibilities and pain outside of her control and somehow kept it together. In other words, trauma. A lot of trauma.
That's the role Amy Morton played onstage (she was also George Clooney's sister in that movie where he was an airline pilot...can't remember the name). It's the singular most powerful performance I've ever witnessed, and Tracy Letts wrote it specifically for her. It's rare to see someone so unafraid to show their ugly side - rare and mesmerizing, in this case. I am avoiding seeing the film adaptation because I don't ever want to forget Morton's phenomenal performance as the eldest daughter of a pill-addicted mess of a narcissist (Deanna Dunagan onstage; Meryl Streep in the movie -- Meryl is genius but again, I'm happy to cherish Dunagan's performance for as long as my aging brain will retain it... ).
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:43 PM
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I want to see this movie. Thanks so much for bringing it up! Maybe I should just go by myself. With some kleenex and a hidden box of Good & Plenty.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:02 PM
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I just saw it's left my town. Probably just as well, huh -- I can watch it and cry uncontrollably in the privacy of my own home when it comes out on DVD...
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:09 PM
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I read Tracy Letts based it on his Grandmother and grandfather. I didnt like the movie much I was left wishing I had seen it on the stage. It was a tad too long, but I thought the subject matter was courageous.
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Old 02-14-2014, 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
what we consider a "strong woman" is someone who has been burdened with responsibilities and pain outside of her control and somehow kept it together. In other words, trauma. A lot of trauma.
Sh*t yeah. YEAH YEAH YEAH! I am borrowing your quote Florence. Love it.

I presented at a stillbirth/neonatal death conference a few years ago. I spoke about the idealisation of "the STRONG woman". About how, in my experience of western culture, it's not a comfort to bereaved parents/people to tell them "OMG you are SO STRONG!" or "I don't know how you do it, or "If I was you I'd not be able to cope" etc etc etc. Platitudes. And insulting. They'd cope. The Universe/God/ a higher power doesn't "choose us" to deal with this crap because we are "so strong" and therefore can deal with it.

We keep it together because we have to. We have no choice. If we don't keep it together the only way out is more dysfunction, more hell on earth or even worse...

I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and breathing.

I hate it when people tell me I am so "strong". Want to slap them. I am weak and human just like everybody else.
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Old 02-14-2014, 05:29 AM
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It was a deeply affecting film with stellar performances.
Very uncomfortable for me at times...lots if "ahhhah" moments.
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Old 02-14-2014, 09:00 AM
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Midway through the movie, Mama says "I'm sick, stop the car." When she gets out, she takes over running across a field. Running and running and running. The Julia Roberts character finally catches her and breathlessly asks "Where are you going? There's no place to go."

That kind of summed up the movie for me...what a great analogy for living with the effects of addiction.

The final scene of the movie...Mama has driven everyone from the house, Julia is the last family member left standing. She impulsively grabs the keys to the old truck and goes roaring down the driveway. A few miles down the road she pulls over, walks up to a fence and gazes across a field. Then, still dressed in pajamas, she gets back in the truck and starts the long drive home.
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Old 02-14-2014, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by SparkleKitty View Post
I was lucky enough to see the original Steppenwolf production of the play on which this movie was adapted. I have never been so profoundly moved by anything.
I too saw this show in the summer of 2007 and agree it was one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen. I didn't cry (MIRACLE!), but my whole body shook throughout the whole show. I don't think I want to watch it again, especially with such an all-star cast, for that very reason.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:35 PM
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Just watched this movie as it's out on DVD now. Has anyone else watched it recently?

Really struggled with it. Triggered to some degree. Scene after scene of family dysfunction. Alcoholism, addiction, adultery, suicide, narcissism, family secrets...scene after scene. Kept waiting for a happy scene, hoping for some light at the end of the tunnel, but it just never came.

It made me thankful for what I have. It made me sad for those who will never find their way out of that kind of darkness.

Brilliant acting by Meryl Streep. Beautiful Oklahoma summer scenery. Some funny lines and moments. Those were the bright spots for me.

But I found myself saying...come on...writers, producers, storytellers...show people that there is hope, there is a way out, there can be healing. There is a sense at the end of the movie that Julia Roberts' character may go searching for her healing, but there is no way to know for sure. As other posters have said, her character is strong, but I wouldn't call her healthy or at peace. I was hoping for more from this movie.
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Old 04-13-2014, 09:33 AM
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I have been Jonse'in to see this one for a long time--just heard that it is on DVD---YES!

Now, I just have to figure out if I can get it on Fios.....can I?.....anyone......?

dandylion

P.S.--for many years, one of my favorite m ovies was "Last Tango in Paris"....so, I can probably handle this....
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Old 04-18-2014, 09:05 PM
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Oh boy this struck a deep cord for me.

I hope it speaks to my recovery that the parts that I really wanted to check out from with was the loads of people impacted by addiction, and their behavior around the loved one's addiction.

It is hard to watch the crazy behavior on the screen that I regularly acted out, and participated in for a very long time. It was harder to watch that from the outside then the addict that I watched for so long.

thanks for this recommendation.....this movie has given me some perspective. It also helps me to see how addiction plays out for generations. That matches with my personal
experience.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:45 AM
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Wow - I think powerful is too tame of a word for this movie. I just managed to see it last weekend on DVD & watched it while DD was busy hosting a sleepover with her friends.

It really blew me away with the real-life depiction of what living with addiction is like, all the subtleties of abuse & how it trickles like water through cracks, generationally down the line. The cast was amazing.

I cannot imagine holding it together emotionally while seeing this performed on stage like a few of you mentioned. I found myself hanging on every word in every scene, because just like in real life you never knew where/when that next big surprise would come crashing down & more would be revealed.

Dandylion - I rented my DVD at a redbox, I even got online to reserve it at the kiosk closest to my house to make sure they would have it in stock when I arrived. I don't know anything about Fios, sorry!
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by FireSprite View Post
I cannot imagine holding it together emotionally while seeing this performed on stage like a few of you mentioned.
Let's be clear...I in no way managed to hold it together emotionally while seeing this performed on stage!
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