Every generation gets the Julia Roberts it deserves—in the ’90s it was the big-haired, commitment-phobic Julia, who defected to Ireland for two goddamn years and came back still a star. (That would never happen now. None of it.) In the ’00s it was Capital-A Actor Julia, working with Soderbergh and Nichols and winning awards. Here in the teens we’ve got Veteran Movie Star Julia, nothing left to prove, in roles both classic (Eat Pray Love) and contemporary, as her career-best turn in August: Osage County demonstrates. Roberts is Barbara Weston, daughter of unholy terror Violet (Meryl Streep, overdoing it a touch). When her father kills himself, Barbara comes home to Oklahoma for the aftermath. She’s joined by an incredible ensemble of family members played by Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch, with other shades absorbed by Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin and Dermot Mulroney. Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning play is dense and intense, hysterical and layered, moods changing on a dime. It doesn’t all necessarily gel—director John Wells seems intimidated by that cast—but it’s a master acting class, with Roberts’ tough, brassy performance holding the whole thing together.

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