A new trailer for August: Osage County, the Meryl Streep-starring adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, once again tries to sell the film as an uplifting story about a quirky family—there's even a Lumineers song in the background. But it comes as filmmakers weigh reaction to the film's ending that screened at Toronto, which some criticized for being too upbeat, in comparison with the ending of the original stage play.
August: Osage County tells the story of the Weston clan, an Oklahoma family with dark secrets and a matriarch named Violet (played by Streep) who's fueled by pills and vitriol. The play has its laughs, sure, but it is not a work about human redemption or about how troubled family learns to love one another or any of those familiar movie conceits. But you might think that by from just viewing the most recent trailer, which intersperses Violet's barbs with shots of the family laughing and the jaunty tune. At least this one makes mention of Violet's rampant pill use.
The tone of the trailer fits with the tone of the ending which people saw in Toronto—one that differs greatly from the ending of the play and has been a point of contention among the filmmakers. (There will be spoilers to follow, but let me tell you, the ending isn't the big shock of the play.)
As Kyle Buchanan at Vulture tells it, the ending of the play sees Violet alone in her house abandoned by her family. The movie, Buchanan writes, "chickens out," cutting from Violet to her daughter Barbara (Julia Roberts) driving away with a "with a 'You know what, I’m gonna be okay!' smile on her face." Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere tweeted: "The Julia Roberts ending of August: Osage County is soft & vague. Tossed in to make the film end on mushy 'upbeat' note. Cop-out." According to Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times, playwright Tracy Letts (who adapted his work for the screen) and director John Wells favor the ending that more closely resembles the play's, but it didn't test well with early audiences. Wells told Zeitchik that the ending, which is approved by The Weinstein Company in its current state, may eventually change before the film reaches theaters on Christmas.
The advertising for the film seems to fit with the new ending, where there's hope for redemption for these characters.