Film Review: Carnage

| 1 March , 2012 | Reply

Directed by: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz
Sassi\’s Star Rating: 4/5

(One apartment + four people) x eighty minutes = carnage

This is the formula that Roman Polanski rests his hopes in this season.

Carnage is the film adaptation of Yasmina Reza\’s popular play Gods of Carnage. Set in New York, but filmed in Paris as Polanski continues to avoid unlawful sex charges, this sharp black comedy pokes fun at self indulgent parent types and the superficial problems they\’re occupied by.

When a fight erupts between two children in a Brooklyn playground, their parents meet up to try and work through the situation congenially. But formality soon descends into madness as the two couples start by butting heads and end up ripping each others throats out.

Uptight investment banker Nancy (Kate Winslet) and brutal lawyer Alan (Christoph Waltz) are out of place in the liberal, middle class apartment of salesman Michael (John C. Reilly) and his bleeding heart wife Penelope (Jodie Foster), who is writing a book on Darfur. They arrive for a friendly attempt at conciliation (and hopefully to avoid legal action against their son), but manners soon go out the door as the adults clash over every-and-any thing, including their children.


Carnage is, in a word, uncomfortable. You\’re not just watching this film unfold; you\’re trapped in the claustrophobic lounge room with them as they tear at each others fragile egos. It\’s that awkward moment at a dinner party when the couple you\’ve just been introduced to start warring while you pass the peas. That\’s great film making, but is it enjoyable film making? I guess that\’s down to whether you\’re the person who throws down your napkin and settles in to watch the show, or runs to the kitchen to get some more wine just to get out of the room.

This is an excellently crafted film, from the cinematography through to the editing and the wonderful performances. It\’s truly a pleasure to watch these four superb actors meet minds and wits in one small room. Winslet and Foster in particular are on fire as they trade politeness for drunkenness and histrionics. Nausea also makes an appearance in a scene that forms the most apt experience of schadenfreude I\’ve come across in a long time.


Carnage is in cinemas now.


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