Carnage

 

 

Based on the play God Of Carnage by Yasmin Reza and adapted by her and Roman Polanski for the silver screen, Carnage follows the encounter of two middle-class New York couples meeting to resolve a fight between their 11 year old sons, one of whom hit the other with a stick in a playground brawl. It’s is a wonderful, biting satire of four people whose facade of politeness crumbles as they abandon decorum and restraint.

What begins as a polite meeting discussing their children soon escalates into a fiendishly malicious 80 minute unravelling of their veneer of civility and the exposure of their true selves. The casting is wonderful and all four cast members are note-perfect with their performances. Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, the parents of the attacker, are the corporate couple, Waltz plays a lawyer who seems completely disinterested in the incident and who is much more concerned with incessantly taking phone calls during the proceedings, much to the annoyance of the others. Winslet, initially icy yet demure, soon transforms into a hysterical mess, getting to play out one of the most spectacular vomiting scenes you’re likely to see in a while. Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly star as the parents of the victim. They are the hosts of this ‘civilised meeting’ but they too soon unravel and reveal very different sides of themselves, Foster’s uptight and severely moral  character dissolves into tears once her liberal values are challenged and Reilly disgusts everyone by telling of how he abandoned the family hamster on the street with no remorse.

Playing out in real time and save for the opening and closing title sequences the entire film takes place in one location, capturing effectively the essence and format of the play. The apartment, meticulously designed by the production team is perfect for creating that confined atmosphere. It seems like such a long time since something of this nature has come about and it’s refreshing to see an intelligently scripted, one-location, satire to rival those of Neil Simon or the fantastic Who’s Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? It’s deliciously chaotic and strangely cathartic to see these characters strip away all pretence and really let loose. Despite what you may think of him as a person, there’s no denying his talent as a filmmaker and this is one of Polanski’s best films in years.

 

Verdict:****

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