Published On: Sun, Feb 19th, 2012

Carnage Film Review

LSMedia Rating- ****

The concept of single setting theatre adapted for the silver screen can sometimes be perceived as duller than the B.B.C. Parliament channel, however Roman Polanski’s theatre adaption Carnage blows all preconceptions out of the water. Adapting Yasmina Reza’s play God of  Carnage, Polanski pokes a hug finger of fun and cynic at the world of the middle classes. Especially those of the New York breed. Filmed in real time in a single apartment, and yes if you’re being technical the corridor as well, we see two rather demure middle aged couples falling apart at the seams and loosing their morals in the space of no more than a few hours. The film opens in retrospect where we see from a long shot a group of kids having an argument in a park, the expensively iconic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline tells us we’re in Brooklyn but also that no one with a student debt or a bus pass is likely to feature in this film. Though class is not really the point of Carnage, yes it plays an integral part, but Polanski is shedding light on the false facades taken up by many and what exactly could happen  if those are challenged.

Facade is certainly not all what it seems in Carnage, though the two couples seem perfectly respectable as the film progresses of course this is no the case. John C. Reilly’s character is in fact a kitchen appliance salesman, a fine job yes but nothing compared to Christopher Waltz’s character. The lawyer extraordinaire. The perfectly admirable Kate Winslet is sleek and East Coast American, the skirt suit is most certainly Chanel, the manners are razor sharp. However she falls from grace worse than the rest, and just goes to show that the American housewife facade is certainly one to be wary of. Her character Nancy becomes a brash and unnerved individual who is unloved by her husband, who pays more attention to his Blackberry than his wife. The infamous vomit scene by Kate is certainly unexpected, think projectile and you’re halfway there. This is a pinnacle moment of the couples at breaking point, manners are thrown aside and Nancy, though unintentionally, throws up on Penelope’s, played astoundingly well by Jodie Foster, couture art books.

The action of Carnage is comical even more so when it is compared to their children. The reason why they are having this meeting in the first place. A minor playground pursuit, although hitting another child in the face with a stick may not actually be minor to some, between the couples two sons results in loss of teeth and scarring. The two couples come together to settle the matter in typical middle class good ol’ fashioned American Manner, coffee and cobbler is offered as is sincere apologies. Nancy and Alan are on the verge of leaving the threshold when the bubbling truth cracks and seeps up into the facade of reality, those previous apologies and understandings aren’t actually mutual. Penny still thinks her child is disfigured, and the couple are drawn back in with yet another apology at the outbursts and an offer of more coffee. Here the truth begins to seep out of that crack at alarming speed.

Carnage is claustrophobic, dark and hilarious. Many will pull fun at themselves due to the obvious mirrors that are being held up by Polanksi here. His camera work is genius, at one point the various characters at staggered away from the camera in terms of heirachy in the situation. With Foster at the foreground, dominant and hysterical to the point of venomous.  Winslet at the back hold a sick bucket, drunk and vulnerable. Though she grabs the situation by the balls at one point, by throwing her husbands phone, which he is persistently on throughout the film, into a flower vase.

Polanski’s adaption is well worth a look, even if for the physical gags, again I can’t underestimate how odd and funny it is to see Kate Winslet throw up.  Jodie Foster is brilliant, Christopher Waltz, honestly, is annoying, but that is more his character, though seeing him stuff his face whilst on the phone with this back to the rest of the group grinds away at my pet peeves. So it may just be personal opinion. Though us British audiences don’t really live in a world of domestic American bliss, though our English Middle classes certainly give competition, we can still appreciate that all those PTA meetings and school runs, dinner parties and coffee mornings are really just a load of rubbish and that host holding her homemade Victoria sponge may just be on the brink of throwing it in your face. You have been warned.

Carnage, in cinemas now

 

About the Author

- He's been told he's often too eccentric for his own good, but that's what a big love for Evelyn Waugh and Florence Welch does to you. That and an English degree, which he's in the final year of. Someone pass the sick bucket! From Gloucestershire, so he lives in his Barbour jacket. LSMedia is certainly one big cultural extended family to him now.