Friday, January 17, 2014

Who Are the Savages Now?

      There’s so much human hurt to follow in August: Osage County that some viewers might miss the thread of delicious irony that runs through it. 
   The extended Weston family has gathered at the Oklahoma plains family home to deal with a sad consequence of the patriarch’s (Sam Shepard) alcoholism and the matriarch’s (Meryl Streep) drug addiction. It’s a pathetically dysfunctional family tearing at each other like a snarling pack of plains coyotes.  Past hurts, intrigues, secrets and grudges have created a mean-spirited atmosphere.
Roberts and Streep

   At the edge of the family chaos is a young woman named Johnna (Misty Upham), a Cheyenne who has been hired as a house servant. She says little but sees all as she cooks and cleans up the messes left by the family’s tantrums. Johnna is the calm, grounded, spiritual person among a group that is a psychologically crumbling mess. The only time she jumps out in front is to break up the near rape of the Weston’s fourteen-year-old granddaughter.i
   Osage County, until roughly one hundred years ago, was part of the flat desolation called Indian County. It is part of the territory where thousands of Indians, forced from their traditional homes in other parts of the United States, were moved because white society considered them savages impeding settlement progress.
  This movie leaves you wondering, once again, which society really had its head on straight.

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