After Benedict Cumberbatch shot to fame in 2010 with Sherlock, he was immediately thrust onto the A-list with a string of performances in high profile movies. Despite this, he still takes on supporting roles in smaller budget productions that get less notice and one of these, August: Osage County, will be arriving on Netflix on April 27th.
The somewhat unwieldy title refers to the time of year the story takes place and its setting, an unusually hot late summer in rural Oklahoma. The disappearance of an aging alcoholic poet spurs an undesired and awkward family reunion for three sisters (Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis) returning home to care for their mother (Meryl Streep) following her loss, with their interactions painting an increasingly clear picture of the resentment, spite and selfishness that festers in each of them.
Benedict Cumberbatch comes into it as the siblings’ cousin, and although his role is secondary (along with, unusually, every other male character), his presence forms the basis of a pair of revelations brought out over the course of the film, revealing the true extent of the dysfunction by which the family operates.
The pic was released in 2013, a year that also saw Cumberbatch feature in blockbusters Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, as well as harrowing period drama 12 Years a Slave and Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate, so it often gets overlooked in his back catalogue, but certainly shouldn’t be disregarded for its obscurity.
August: Osage County is full of hateful characters and mean-spirited sniping, so isn’t a film that everyone will enjoy, but it’s certainly one for Benedict Cumberbatch completists, especially ones looking for something where he plays a far less commanding character than he usually does, demonstrating that he can do subtle just as well as bombastic.