Carnage (2011) Directed by Roman Polanski. With Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C Reilly.
Based on the play ‘God of Carnage‘ by French playwright Yasmina Reza, Carnage is an enjoyable, amusingly ironic look at how two couples negotiate initial social niceties in the aftermath of a playground incident between their two young sons, which has left one requiring hospital treatment for a facial wound.
Jodie Foster and John C Reilly are Penelope and Michael – parents of injured chil, Ethan. Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are Nancy and Alan – parents of aggressor, Zachary. Directed by Roman Polanski, the theatre origins of the material are very much adhered to as the film charts the short evolution of the relationship between the two couples from smiling-through-gritted-teeth, right through to full-on, spitting venom screaming matches.
Anyone familiar with Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party, will note similarities – as the whole film fixes its lens on the interplay and events that emerge inside one location. As you’d expect of such an established cast, the performances are well measured, as each character gradually has their tolerance levels tested with some satisfyingly funny results. With a runtime of just 80mins, this is a film that aims to get in and make its point without ever outstaying its welcome. The ultimate irony – do we ever really grow up?, is firmly stated – and it’s fun watching the pleasantries degenerating from characters standing-on-ceremony, to wanting to stand on each others faces. If I have a criticism, it’d be that one gag (Waltz’s phone never stops ringing) get’s overplayed to the extent that you might find yourself heaving a heavier sigh than the affected characters in the film. On the whole though, it’s a brisk and satisfying watch thanks to good turns from all four leads and solid direction. 3/5