Had it been mishandled, the subject matter and the various plot threads could have easily devolved into a comedy of soap opera proportions, but director John Wells expertly navigates the emotional terrain to keep the film feeling grounded. It's effective without being emotionally manipulative or clichéd, and part of that has to do with the fact that not everything is tied up neatly by the time the closing credits start to roll. Just as in real life, the film shows us that relationships can get messy and people don't always change, no matter how much we'd like them to. Wells also keeps August: Osage County feeling relatable by choosing not to strongly rely on humor to carry the film. There are humorous moments to inject levity when needed, but at its core it's a drama, and the humor doesn't detract from that. That's not to say it's a downer — far from it; the film just manages to strike the right tonal balance between somberness and humor, keeping the audience invested and not feeling dejected.
3.5 out of 5.