Based on Tracey Letts’ Pulitzer prize-winning play of the same name, this is the story of the Weston’s….. a family so dysfunctional, so broken that you think things could not be any worse for them.
Well you would be wrong.
Headed by the drug addled cancer survivor mother Violet (Streep), the family’s 3 daughters Barbara (Roberts), Ivy (Nicholson) and Karen (Lewis) are summoned home when their father Beverley (Shepard) goes missing. And yes, you do get the feeling that should their mother have gone missing, they may not even have answered the phone let alone come home.
The girls, with their equally reluctant spouses and families in tow, arrive to their mother in full loud, ranting, narcissistic, confrontational swing. Oh yes…..Violet Weston makes Joan Crawford look like a mother who was just having a bad day. Violet even taunts her 14 year old grand-daughter Jean (a very grown up Breslin) for her vegan beliefs. Not good nature taunting either…. full on sneering vitriol.
The only person who Violet seems to genuinely love, and who genuinely loves her in return, is her sister Mattie Fae (Martindale). It does become clear that the pair have endured a shared traumatic childhood so they are partially forgiven for their inherent meanness. Mattie Fae is somewhat of a family peacemaker but she is blind as far as her devotion to her sister goes.
So the girls are all home and are joined at a family dinner by Mattie Fae’s husband, their adored Uncle Charlie (Cooper) and their cousin Little Charles (Cumberbatch). Alas, all hell breaks loose. This is the family dinner fight to end all family dinner fights. It is so nasty and cruel that you actually flinch in some moments. And the saddest thing is that the pain and hurt runs so deep that it seems like nobody even wants to salvage their family.
Over the course of a few days, more secrets and lies are revealed with harrowing results. Lives and plans are decimated, relationships ripped to shreds, the point of no return passed and only visible in the distance behind. It is heartbreaking.
Meryl Streep has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance and rightly so. It’s in the comedy or musical category which has me perplexed. Is this supposed to be a black comedy? If it was, then I clearly missed the point.
With the calibre of actors in this movie, the acting is flawless as you would expect. I didnt really Robert’s character engaging but she wasn’t meant to be lovable. Cooper was a genuine surprise. I have seen plenty of his other work but he was completely endearing in one breath and horribly revolting in the next. But he was a man lost among the Weston women so some allowances must be made.
This movie is heavy-duty and not light Sunday afternoon fare. It is tough going and emotional. A little too contrived in parts but overall a brilliant, well acted, well told story. This is for those who like their drama delivered with a sledgehammer. If heavy-duty drama is your kind of movie, dont miss this one.
Love Flick xx
Director : John Wells
Starring : Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch
Running Time : 121 minutes
Release Date : 02 January, 2014