DVD Movie Review: Carnage (2011)

Carnage-2011-christoph-waltz-25021110-693-472Releasing the inner child

One I have been meaning to do for a while, is Roman Polanski‘s Carnage (2011) , in much the same way as I kept meaning to watch it for a while, since first becoming intrigued with its premise and, of course, the fact that Polanski was directing. So, was it worth the wait? Well…

…by and large, very much so. Polanski has really come into his own of late, with his excellent (and multi award-winning The Ghost Writer (2010)) being his previous film before his adaptation of the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, who wrote the screenplay.

Its set-up will be familiar to anyone who is trying *really* hard to be a *really* good middle-class parent; the Longstreets, Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) learn their son has been hit in the mouth hard with a stick by the boy of the Cowans Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz). Attempting to show some community-minded spirit rather than descending into acrimony, Penelope (and Michael) invite Nancy and Alan over to sort the problem out and decide how best to proceed with bringing their sons back together. However, it would appear to be a case of like mother/father-like-sons as the evening descends, by slow but steady degrees into increasingly childish (and very funny) spite and recriminations:

Nancy Cowan: At least our kid isn’t a little wimpy-ass faggot!
Penelope Longstreet: Yours is a FUCKING SNITCH!

Alan Cowan: Penelope, I believe in the god of carnage. The god whose rule’s been unchallenged since time immemorial.

While it’s always a joy to see Christoph Waltz act in just about anything, and the ensemble cast works a treat, it is in fact Foster who takes the most plaudits for her performance, displaying an inner rage and subtlety that her earlier displays, while all very competent, have come nowhere near to touching.

And the film maintains credibility throughout – seriously, this is just the kind of thing that could so easily happen in our days of perilous parenting and could have taken the alternative title of ‘Good Intentions’, because we all know where they so frequently lead, now don’t we? And the film as a whole has the marvellous fascination of the car crash – you know you shouldn’t, turning your head away would be by far the best thing to do, but you ‘aint gonna do that, are you? Course you’re not.

80 mins.

2 thoughts on “DVD Movie Review: Carnage (2011)”

  1. Jodie Foster’s earlier performances include Tallulah in Bugsy Malone (1976) – if that isn’t a role that displays subtlety and inner rage – as opposed to outer rage – I don’t know what is. I would like to watch it having never seen any of the actors before, but this, of course is impossible. Working with stars (they’re on the screen, I’m on the sofa but it’s a kind of a working relationship) means that it takes just that bit longer to suspend one’s disbelief.

    I would also have liked to have seen the play. I am not familiar with this play but have seen Art in French and English, which is an earlier play by the same author. I found Art more culturally credible in a French setting, and I’m wondering if it would be the same for this film. I would be interested to see a French remake – as Gerard Depardieu is currently disgraced, having renounced French nationality for Russian and with pending charges for drink-mopeding, I’m wondering who will play Cowan, maybe Daniel Auteuil? I’m thinking of a younger Jean Reno for Michael, and for the female characters Juliette Binoche as Penelope and perhaps a young Catherine Deneuve or Jeanne Moreau as Nancy.

    As a non-parent who has been intimate with similar stories from those burdened with the responsibilities of parenting, the golden rule is to keep one’s counsel and nod sagely and sympathetically, while planning a quick exit.

  2. Hi C,

    I know what you mean, would that we could have our pick of actors from earlier times – for example, if Sean Connery (or perhaps Roger Moore? ;-)) could have played Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), as opposed to George Lazenby, it would have been the best Bond ever, no doubt. And yes, I too would love to see Carnage in French – my guess is that the humour would be even more cruel, barbed and delicious. 😉

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