Friday, February 10, 2012

Carnage: Movie Review

The carnage left over after a verbal battle of wits.
“Carnage” is about the carnage that is left over as two couples get together to discuss their sons’ recent altercation. It’s a play. Not just based on a play, but I’m pretty sure it is the play, word-for-word, scene-for-scene. But make that just one scene. One room, one afternoon, four characters. What makes it even more unique, is that it’s a comedy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comedy this simplistic in its setting.2011

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Screenplay by: Yasmina Reza and Roman Polanski

Starring: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz

Jodie Foster plays Penelope, she’s the passive-aggressive wife and mother; her husband is played by John C. Reilly and he just wants to make nice; their son was the victim. Kate Winslet’s Nancy also just wants to make nice; her husband is played by Christoph Waltz and he’s the aggressive-aggressive one; their son was the abuser.

Left to Right: Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster), Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly), Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz)
and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet). Photo by Guy Ferrandis, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
I know what you’re thinking. Is it really that easy to declare one 11 year-old boy the victim and the other the abuser? Aren’t they both somewhat to blame for whatever occurred? Well, you try telling that to Foster’s Penelope. After the 1 hour and 20 minute straight verbal battle, I am staying clear.

“Carnage” is funny because we know what each character is really thinking under their sincere, or false-sincere, passive cover. Eventually, once a bottle of scotch gets consumed, they admit to their feelings, and surprisingly, it still remains funny. That is where the brilliance of the writing comes in. You could apply the old adage, “it’s funny because it’s true.” But there is something to these movies about the real human and family relations accurately displayed beneath a comedy banner.

Being a comedy, “Carnage” fared well enough getting Golden Globe nominations, but I am a little miffed at the lack of screenplay nominations. Then again, that’s what happens when it is written and directed by Roman Polanski. I don’t blame Hollywood for not always wanting to reward him. If you don’t want to award him either, then find the play version “Le Dieu du carnage”. I’m sure it’s just as good.
Best of 2011


$5 a Day (2008) - The brilliant comedy found within a dysfunctional father-son relationship.