If disses were marble, Tracy Letts would be Michelangelo and 'August: Osage County' would be his David. His characters in this film, directed by John Wells and based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, are an extended family of well-off Oklahomans loaded with secrets and festering emotional wounds. They have gathered to bury the patriarch, played by Sam Shepard in one outstanding prologue scene.
Shepard may have been the Dad, but the Mom (Meryl Streep, in peak form, even for her) is the real power. A strong and severe woman who speaks her mind loudly and frequently, and is currently suffering from mouth cancer - an irony not lost on anyone - is facing her winter years by popping pills and settling scores. A major early set piece around a dinner table has Streep sitting like a General, barking humiliating things at her family. Why, you might be thinking, would I ever want to see such a thing? For starters, it is very, very funny.