Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Roman Polanski's follow-up to the criminally underrated 'Ghost Writer' may not put him on this year's "Best Of..." list like last year, but its still very entertaining (mostly due to Christoph Waltz' performance in my opinion). In fact, I'd see it again. 'Carnage', based off the play; God Of Carnage', is the story of two sets of parents (Jodie Foster & John C Reilly on one side and Kate Winslet & Christoph Waltz on the other) who decide to have a nice little "pow-wow"/parent conference with each other after their sons are involved in a schoolyard fight (Winslet & Waltz's son hit Foster & Reilly's son in the face with a stick causing permanent damage). Polanski mixes the element of tension and a cringe-worthy atmosphere with dark/quirky comedy very well. We haven't seen many Polanski comedies (does 'Fearless Vampire Killers' count?) yet his unique, almost indescribable style is all over the film.
It starts with Winslet & Waltz going over to the home of Reilly & Foster to apologize, but as the film unfolds we learn that Foster wants more (not only does she want an apology from the parents, but she also wants an apology from their son). There's plenty of tension in the air from both sides (they take nonstop subliminal and not-so subliminal jabs at each through the entire film), but the two sets of parents try their best to be cordial with one another. But as the film goes along the fake niceness goes out the window. They get drunk, show their true colors and proceed to throw personal insults at each other and essentially have a mini breakdown. In my opinion 'Carnage' is everything Todd Field's 'Little Children' should have been (which also co-starred Kate Winslet), which is essentially the idea of grown-ups/parents slowly turning in to children and acting immature amongst each other.
This movie will work for many different audiences outside of the typical art house crowd:

-If you're a fan of "Brooklyn on film" ('Do The Right Thing', 'The Warriors', 'Two Lovers', etc), 'Carnage' is perfect. Polanski makes it a point to reference the borough and show the specific neighborhood of Brooklyn heights as much as possible through the course of the film.

-This movie is perfect for couples with children at any stage in parenthood. I'm sure many parents can relate to the basic plot and will have a good laugh at 'Carnage' as they reminisce about a similar experience they probably had. And parents in the early stage could look at 'Carnage' as a possibility of something to look forward too when their kids grow up.

-For those of you still stuck on the overrated 'Inglorious Basterds', you'll enjoy Christoph Waltz in this (who was, in my opinion, one of the FEW highlights of 'Inglorious Basterds'). Not to say the rest of the cast wasn't good (although I did feel Kate Winslet overdid it a little), but Waltz was the standout among the four actors.

Although not as good, the film's (mostly) one location setting and minimal cast reminded me of other movies adapted from plays like; Tom Noonan's early 90's sundance hit; 'What Happened Was' (the story of two co-workers who have a dinner date with each other, set entirely in a one bedroom new york city apartment) and Robert Altman's 'Secret Honor' (the one-man show about Richard Nixon's fictitious nervous breakdown). The film breezes by, clocking in at only 79 minutes in length with a primary cast of only four actors. There's plenty of comedy and the actors bounce off of one another really well. I highly recommend this.


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