Is it Oscar time already? Here comes Meryl Streep's 2013 entry (it opened early in some choice localities in order to qualify), a film adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play of the same name; AND she has amazing company. This cast is to die for, even though the hateful characters they portray are ruthless, sordid and cruel.
- * Meryl Streep ("Hope Springs") Violet is pure venom, even after we hear her life history and try to sympathize, she's still evil. Her drug of choice makes quite a pharmacy! In my opinion, Streep is given too full a rein: The dialog does the job, we don't need all the histrionics as well. I saw this on stage and it was effective without her extra Methody tics.
- * Sam Shepard ("Safe House") Beverly her husband, has had enough of her. He prefers scotch.
- * Julia Roberts ("Mirror Mirror") Barbara was her daddy's favorite, but the apple didn't fall very far from the tree: her tongue is pretty sharp and she has become an unyielding sort of woman.
- * Ewan McGregor ("Jack the Giant Slayer") Bill is trying to grasp the family dynamics so maybe he can understand his wife Barbara a little better.
- * Abigail Breslin ("Ender's Game") Jean is only fourteen, but pretending to be a little more grown up sure can be fun!
- * Juliet Lewis ("The Switch") Karen didn't come back to the old homestead after she went off to college but THIS time she has hit it lucky!
- * Dermot Mulroney ("Joline") Steve is wealthy, drives a great car and Karen will marry him in Florida next January!
- * Margo Martindale ("Justified") Mattie Fae is Violet's only sister. They both have secrets.
- * Chris Cooper ("The Muppets") Charlie is the nicest in-law of the bunch (even though his prayers CAN go on a little too long), but if Mattie Fae doesn't button her lip she might not see her 39th wedding anniversary.
- * Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Fifth Estate") is stunning as Little Charlie, Mattie Fae's son. This actor is brilliant! This time he's a shy, awkward young man who arrives late, plays the piano and sings.
- * Julianne Nicholson ("Boardwalk Empire") is Ivy, the third daughter. She stayed around and took a lot of lip from her heartless mother, but now she's in love.
- * Misty Upham ("Frozen River") is Johnna, the young woman hired to help care for Violet. Johnna is the calm at the center of the storm but we LOVED it when she picked up that shovel! Born in Montana and raised south of Seattle, Misty has been working steadily since 2002.
This story is about a toxic family and its chemical dependencies - both pills and alcohol - that drive people to do what they do. It felt really good to watch Barbara fling all those prescription bottles at her mother'sdoctor, but I was clutching at straws, because there are only three or four people in the entire story that I can remotely care about. (I always want someone to root for.)
Do NOT spend your discretionary money if you want relaxing entertainment but by all means GO if you want to see brilliant acting! (AND Oscar contenders.)