Familes: who'd have them? Certainly not me if I were offered the Westons, the disturbingly dysfunctional bunch featured in August: Osage County.
The disappearance of their poet father provides various adult offspring, plus partners, uncles, aunts and a child, with the motivation to return to the family home. However, they are welcomed somewhat less than warmly by the cancer-suffering matriarch Violet, played to bitter perfection by Meryl Streep.
To describe Violet in any detail would perhaps dampen the impact she makes when on screen; it suffices to say that pill addiction, a supremely sharp tongue and some deeply-held secrets add up to create a character of terrifying mean-spiritedness.
Each of her three daughters is afflicted with their own issues - failing relationships, confused romance, a wayward daughter - whilst also having to fight their own corners within the family group. Julia Roberts' Barbara is having a particularly tough time and would steal the show here were it not for Ms. Streep.
The individual strands of story are neatly inter-woven so as to create a family with deep, complicated and believable roots. Some wrestle one another for control whilst others just want their voices to be heard and to have what they say accepted.
Listing each of the strong acting performances on display isn't really necessary - there isn't a misstep amongst the ensemble cast. Yet it would be remiss of me not to mention Benedict Cumberbatch, who leaves Baker Street far behind to nail the character of the put-upon, yet quietly romantic, Little Charles.
Based as it is on Tracy Letts' 2007 play, August: Osage County does at times feel a little more stagey than cinematic. But this can be to its benefit - for instance, an extended scene at the dinner table has as much tension as anything I've seen on screen recently.
The film is at times an uncomfortable watch, feeling as if we're intruding upon the very private moments of a family on the verge of breaking apart for good. However, I was gripped, amused and horrified throughout... and left feeling very glad not to be part of the Weston family.