‘August’ is a barnburner for actresses

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August: Osage County

Adapted by Tracy Letts from his 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning play and stolidly directed by “ER” producer John Wells, “August: Osage County” is a black comedy of prairie family dysfunction -- your worst holiday dinner times ten.

At its center is Meryl Streep as Viola Weston, the cancerous matriarch determined to be the last one standing. As Vi lays waste to her kin, so Streep lays waste to the rest of the cast; this is one of the most flamboyantly theatrical performances of the actress’s storied career. The other actors—including Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, and a blessedly fine Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale—struggle to escape her shadow. Not a great movie but a fine guilty pleasure of acting excess.

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