Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carnage: Grade A


Carnage (2011)

Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz. Director Roman Polanski.

Two couples (Foster-Reilly, and Winslet-Waltz) meet in the former’s New York apartment to discuss a playground fight, in which the Foster-Reilly couple’s child was hit by the other couple’s child. Everyone is politeness and civility as they discuss the incident; apologies are tendered and accepted, but as the conversation goes on, a harsh word here, then another there, gradually provoke reactions that reveal a subterranean landscape of rage and frustration. The conversation eventually degenerates into accusation, screaming, and name-calling, though not without some squirmingly humorous notes.

All the action takes place in the apartment, so the whole film has a setbound, theatrical feel. The director must employ creative artifice to keep the characters in the room, which he does, but you must suspend your disbelief several times. Mike Nichols managed the task better the 1966 classic, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, to which Carnage is very similar in structure and dialog.

Acting and characterization are the draws here, not the story, as was true in “Woolf” also. Edward Albee wrote "Woolf," and Carnage comes from Yasmina Reza. In both, the characters are excellently drawn. The acting in Carnage is extremely good, especially by Winslet who stands out. I never warmed to Foster’s character, which was too brittle to seem believable, but that’s just my impression; her acting was faultless. Polanski’s direction is visible in every scene and it is brilliant. Though set in New York, the movie is technically a foreign film, shot in Paris, because Polanski is a fugitive from American justice.

No comments:

Post a Comment