Carnage (2012)

  • Director – Roman Polanski
  • Starring – Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet. Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly
  • Writer – Yasmina Reza and Roman Polanski
  • Year – 2012
  • Running Time – 80 mins

Much like Closer in 2004 and Doubt in 2008, Carnage has been adapted from a play to the big screen.  The significant difference to these previous endeavors is that Carnage has retained the look, feel and style of the play whilst Polanksi has added a layer of cinematography and direction, so making it significantly more accessible to a screen watching audience.  The result is a hugely impressive short, sharp and often hilarious uber dark comedy.

Set entirely in one apartment and with only 4 actors, Carnage tells the story of two sets of parents forced into one of the more awkward social events possible after one son whacks the other in the head with a stick.  What starts out as a polite but awkward conversation, soon descends into outright bedlam as the two camps square off, firing incriminations and insults as the initial reason for the meeting soon gets lost in the haze as the couple turn on themselves.

The small cast, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C Reilly are all uniformly excellent. There is a simple comfortableness between them that comes from a group of actors on top of their game and blessed with one of the best scripts of recent years.  The biting dialogue interspersed with comedic and visual gags is a true feast. There are moments which play more towards a male audience whilst others will have women cheering in support.  In one such divisive scene towards the end of the film, my wife was in tears with laughter whilst at the same time egging one of the characters on.  I shamefully admit I felt a touch of sympathy for the poor chap.

A quick note also needs to go to the set designers who produced a compact apartment perfected down to the smallest detail. I won’t give away how this is highlighted, but keep your eye out for the little things in the background, especially when the characters are walking around.

Carnage is one of the best films I have seen in a long time, it is genuinely funny but truly dark.  It may take you a few minutes to realise that it is ok to laugh, but once you do, you won’t stop.  Polanski back on top form.


Review by Will Malone
If you liked Carnage, then try Punch Drunk Love

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