For my 200th REVIEW (no, please hold your applause), I decided to watch the “no manners” comedy, CARNAGE. Based on the French play “God of Carnage”, this film adaptation is a biting satire that’s so cringe worthy that all you can do is laugh and go along for the ride.
Reminiscent in many ways to the classic WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966), CARNAGE begins with a non-verbal scene of two boys fighting in the park. It culminates with Zachary, the bullied one defending himself with a branch, striking Ethan, the other boy, in the face. This is the only moment of non-verbal confrontation that we’ll get for the rest of the film.
Introduced to Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy (Kate Winslet), we find them at the NYC condo of Michael (John C. Reilly) and Penelope (Jodi Foster) hunched over a computer putting the final touches documenting the confrontation of their children.
Though distressed that their son Ethan has been “disfigured” by the attack, Michael and Penelope have decided that the only way to move forward is to sort things out in a polite fashion with Zachary’s folks. They do hope though that Zachary will take responsibility for his actions and apologize.
Over the course of the next hour, the situation devolves into a drunken verbal brawl, not only between the couples of how best to handle this but amongst themselves as well. During which all manners of dirty laundry are hung out to dry and game for further besmirching.
A pitch-black satire about manners, CARNAGE has an astonishing script that in the hands of a master like Director Roman Polanski is played to maximum effect.
The acting by the entire cast is simply exquisite with all of them working at the top of their game. And even though they are all vastly dissimilar in their attitudes and opinions, it’s easy to see yourself reflected in each one of their points of view.
Taking place in one location, the movie has a heightened sense of reality, which is not a problem unless you have an issue with a more grandiose style. But this is what a good satire does. It presents the material in a more fantastical manner while still staying 100% truthful to human foibles and emotions.
Like Tarantino’s writing and directing, Polanski is able to create unbearable tension with just words. From the very beginning it feels like there’s a ticking time bomb ready to explode and when it does, it lays waste to everyone in its vicinity.
I like CARNAGE a lot. A simple film (it’s only 80min. long), it sure packs a wallop and next to GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992) one of my favorite play adaptations.
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