August: Osage County

Rated 3.0

As a play, August: Osage County won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Now it’s out in a film version featuring Meryl Streep and a big-name supporting cast, and it seems to have lost what I’m assuming was the combination of luster and grit that made it so impressive onstage. Streep dominates the story in the role of Violet Weston, a foul-mouthed, drug-addicted, cancer-plagued Oklahoma matriarch whose weary, alcoholic, literary husband (Sam Shepard) has suddenly disappeared. Violet dominates her daughters and the other relatives who gather in the aftermath of that disappearance, and all sorts of family secrets, semisubmerged resentments and half-hidden scandals are dragged out to center stage. Director John Wells hasn’t really found a coherent form of overall presentation here, and the performances as well as the script suffer as a result. The low-key performances—Chris Cooper as Violet’s brother-in-law, Julianne Nicholson as the youngest of her daughters, Misty Upham as an in-house caregiver, Shepard—come as welcome relief. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R