August: Osage County

Rated 3.0

Tracy Letts' dark comedy of an Oklahoma family's secrets comes to the screen severely trimmed (by Letts himself), but with a stellar cast. Some of the original's depth and texture is sacrificed; what remains focuses on Meryl Streep as the drug-addled matriarch and Julia Roberts as her eldest daughter. Others are flawlessly cast—Ewan McGregor as Roberts' estranged husband, Abigail Breslin as their daughter, Margo Martindale as Streep's sister, Chris Cooper as her husband, Benedict Cumberbatch as their son, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson as Streep's other daughters—but without the prominence they had on stage. Those familiar with the play will be able to fill in the blanks; others may wonder why this soapy diva bitch-match won a Pulitzer Prize. Director John Wells imparts the air of a TV drama.