Wow. I've seen Meryl Streep in everything from Death Becomes Her to The Bridges of Madison County, from Doubt to The Devil Wears Prada, and everything in between. I have never seen her like this. She is raw, mean, bigoted, selfish, and self-absorbed. She is brilliant.
A family emergency, which soon turns into a family tragedy, brings a family together in their small Oklahoma home town, and it doesn't take very long to figure out that these are family members who are quite happy to remain apart. Each of three sisters is complicated and struggling in her own way, which is of course exacerbated by sadness and their mother's illness and substance dependence. The film begins on a dark and heavy note, and though there are glimpses of levity (Benedict Cumberbatch and an organ featuring prominently in one of them -- but my fixation with Benedict Cumberbatch is a story for a different day), it mostly remains there for the bulk of the substantial running time.
I'm not a huge Julia Roberts fan, and I haven't really missed her since she moved to Taos, had a bunch of kids, stopped making romantic comedies, and apparently forgot that prairie skirts are ugly (I say that because she's wearing one in 80% of the photos I see of her in tabloids). That said, she was achingly good in this film, and I find myself hoping that she completely abandons any future films of the Oceans Eleven ilk in favor of more roles like this one. She also has incredible skin, which I fixated on for most of the movie because though there are close-ups galore, she is mostly makeup free.