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“Carnage” – Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

January 15, 2012

Roman Polanski doing a comedy? I can’t even remember if he has ever directed a comedy. “Carnage” is based on the stage play by Yasmina Reza (who also co-scripted the movie with Polanski). The film tells the simple story of two sets of parents (John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, & Christoph Waltz) meeting over an issue that their sons got into an after school fight. More importantly, the movie goes beyond exploring who’s side is the right one, but is a bizarre, in-depth, character study about parents; their marriages, their faults, their quirks, and so on.

The meeting begins very civil, both sets of parents are quite contempt about the whole ordeal and plan to have the kids meet and talk it out like adults. The irony of it all is the adults aren’t even adults. Things are said, feelings are hurt, and everyone is lashing out at one another. We start to see the faults in these people. The boy’s parents who attacked the other parents kid are the guests; they’re not the best of in house guests. The father (Waltz) won’t stop answering his cell phone and talking business, while the mother (Winslet) is a bit of a prude and comes off better than anyone else in the room. The parents of the victim (Reilly & Foster) are being pushed to a fine line of whether or not they can take it.

The movie is one giant slap in the face of irony. The parents become outlandish and repulsive between another, you’re trying to imagine who’re the kids in these families? Where it’s strengths come from the characters as well as the actors playing them, I do feel that it’s weakness is regarding how far it could’ve gone. The last thirty minutes of the film is having everyone lash out in a drunken tirade; you’re hoping ‘something’ is going to happen, ‘something’ beyond our comprehension. Instead we get a cell phone vibrating.

Winslet & Foster are the best here, their characters are far more complex and fucked up, which makes the performances all the more gratifying. You can empathize with one and hate the other, and then all of a sudden the tables have turned then it’s vice versa! In my opinion it’s the father’s here who are the real enemies that their influences onto their wives as well as their children, lead to certain downfalls. John C. Reilly’s character blames kids for being the cause of unhealthy marriages, that kids are the reason husbands & wives truly hate one another. For like of a better term, it’s fucked up, because I’m sure there are some twisted folks out there who believe in this mentality.

The movies length may throw the viewers off, it’s only a 79 minute run time, by the time the movie fades to black, audiences members are baffled, ‘That’s it?’ I kind of wish the movie didn’t end where it subsequently ends, but be that as it may, for the films lack of realization it does make up for Polanski smooth style in storytelling. The movie is presented in a very stage play sense. It’s one set, an apartment, and the characters seemed to be trapped, there’s no place else to go except to face one another. I love a good dark comedy and I really like Roman Polanski, so my hopes were high for this film; it’s a good farce, but I wish Polanski made it darker.

GRADE: B-

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