DVD Review: Carnage
Currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Thankfully, this is not a straight to DVD movie featuring Spider-Man’s symbiote enemy, nor is it a remake of Delphine Gleize’s French film Carnages (2002). This instead is the movie adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s critically acclaimed play Le Dieu du Carnage directed by Roman Polanski.
When two school boys clash in a park resulting in one being violently struck in the mouth by the other with a stick, the parents of the two boys meet to discuss this serious issue.
Michael & Penelope Longstreet (John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster); the parents of the victim play host to Alan & Nancy Cowan (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet); the parents of the ‘aggressor’, with the hope of moving forward regarding their children’s relationship.
Initially, the meeting appears to be civilized, with the two sets of parents trying to come to a rational and mature conclusion under awkward circumstances; however slowly but surely, after multiple incidents, the day inevitably spirals out of control and descends into furore. The sophisticated demeanour that the couples seemed to possess, gradually disintegrates as the afternoon draws on and with their differences coming to light, this causes a mass fall out. As sickness, alcohol, impoliteness and ignorance kicks in, each individual’s feelings, hypocritical stances and prejudiced opinions surface exposing them for what they really are.
Carnage does exactly what it says on the tin. The performances are excellent with Winslet, Foster and Waltz all revelling in roles that sees their characters stripped down to the bare bones as the film progresses. Also brilliant is John C. Reilly, (who could so easily be overshadowed) in what is probably his best part to date refusing to be outshone by his co-stars reinforcing Polanski’s trust in his ability.
The interactions between the couples are also great to watch as the problems in their relationships come to head causing them to turn on one another. In addition, each person, at the most inopportune moment, decide to vent their feelings in the most inappropriate but blackly comic way.
After an intentional slow start, Polanski’s direction keeps the film moving along by gradually building the tension and anxiety that exist between the couples. This underlying strain begins to simmer and towards the climax, the pressure of trying being ‘courteous’ to each other boils over and erupts into an all out war of words.
Watching people going into meltdown realistically should not be funny but compliments to the direction, the script and the cast’s penchant for comic timing that makes this possible. The deliberate feeling of watching a play on the small screen by being shot and set in real time and effectively in one location also adds an extra dimension to the film.
Carnage is entertaining and great fun and whilst not the classic it should, and could have been, there is no doubting that this superbly acted play-cum-film is great to watch and is a welcome diversion away from the gross out comedies, rom-coms and The Hangover-esque movies that are currently saturating the film market.
FMV Rating ***½