CARNAGE is a sensational character comedy that keeps on giving. With four of the greatest actors of our generation, a director whose talent is undeniable and a script that’s smart, outlandish, exciting and aggressive all in one, you are in for a laugh out loud marital dynamics satire unlike anything that’s ever been done in cinema…
Set in contemporary Brooklyn, New York, Carnage centers on two pairs of parents one of whose child has hurt the other at a public park, who meet to discuss the matter in a civilized manner. However, as the evening goes on, the parents become increasingly childish, resulting in the evening devolving into chaos.
If I could simply describe CARNAGE, I’d say that it’s like watching Everybody Loves Raymond, it starts out with people having a conversation, the problem at hand could be easily resolved in the first 5 minutes of the movie but then something surfaces that gives them a reason to argue and the argument escalates, it even transforms into another argument, the kind that forces all the characters to unmask and unwillingly reveal their hypocrisy and the whole thing explodes, in the end they don’t even remember what they were arguing about in the first place.
This is one script, one adaptation that I consider one of this year’s best. The characters that playwright/screenwriter Yasmina Reza created are so focused in their own world, each of them is hilarious. The story is real and grounded. When you place these four individuals in one room long enough, you’ll start to notice which individual would team up with the other, and how the pair-up would change, you could like one person one minute and suddenly dislike them the next. It’s a dialogue-driven film, the characters attack each other with words and their certain peculiar choice of language. The film is shot in real time and it feels like a stage play.
We are entitled to our opinions about Roman Polanski the person, but as a filmmaker, nobody can doubt his accomplishments and I think this is his most unique work yet, the story is set in an enclosed, contained location and the story happens in one continuous day, and that requires the actors to constantly be present because they all share the same amount of screen time, they are there in every scene. I’m sure this kind of project would be a challenge to any filmmaker including the seasoned ones like Polanski.
Jodie Foster plays the uptight writer/bookseller Penelope who has a very dead set point of view and she gets easily irritated or bothered by those who don’t share her ideas or perspective. John C. Reilly plays Penelope’s husband, Michael who’s the peacemaker, always trying to keep the situation level-headed but even he has a breaking point and it stems from the frustration he feels about his wife.
Kate Winslet plays Nancy, a successful broker, a very busy woman who desperately wants to be part of her son’s life, she thinks she knows the first thing about parenting but she doesn’t really know much at all and when confronted by those facts, she gets defensive. Alan, played by Christoph Waltz, is my favorite character, the most hilarious one of all because of his insensitivity, he lives, breaths and dies by his cell phone.
So Yasmina’s characters are very grounded in reality, these are the type of people that we know and have in our own families.
CARNAGE plays on the psychology of couples, the psychology of marriage and the psychology of parenting. All the while making you crack up by not wanting to let go, because just when you think the story would end, something is said or something is done that causes the characters to dig deeper into their emotions and who they truly are, and when the film does end, everything is out in the open for all to see. What’s left is a mix of awkwardness and relief in the air.
Parents arguing with other parents, everyone thinks they have the right method and you get to sit back and watch, what can be more amusing than that?!