Review: 'Carnage'

Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz star in Roman Polanski's new drama. Submitted photo.

Carnage (showtimes) is adapted

from Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning play God

of Carnage, a product of the Who's

Afraid of Virginia Woolf? school of writing. It deals with a tense meeting

between two sets of parents that starts off very progressive and polite. Before

long, however, bits of ugliness emerge. You know where it's going and in real

life you would quickly head for the hills rather than suffer through such an

encounter. But this is fiction, and it's fun watching the veneer of

civilization fade and the fangs come out. It's even more fun watching four

gifted thespians enjoying an opportunity to act their fannies off.

Roman Polanski directs the story quite efficiently, aside

from some unnecessary close-ups here and there. The film stars Jodie Foster,

Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. Cool cast. In the interest of

clarity and brevity, I'll refer to the actors directly rather than by their

character names. The set-up: During a playground fight, Kate and Christoph's

son picked up a stick and wailed on Jodie and John's son. Jodie and John

initiated the meeting of the parents to address the incident in an adult, evolved

fashion. Kate and Christoph, though appearing appropriately uneasy, adopt a

similarly refined tone.

But Kate keeps her coat on and Christoph keeps taking

business calls on his phone. Jodie and John notice. Soon the first

inappropriate remark slips out and the devolution begins. It's all very stagey,

but that's part of why the production is so entertaining. Yes, serious issues

are discussed, but the appeal is the spectacle of the meeting. The

artificiality of the oh-so-grown-up summit and the revelation that people can

be rude, crude and downright savage - it's all so ... obvious. But juicy! And

everybody emotes all over the place! Best of all, it's short. The film runs a

brisk hour and twenty minutes, just long enough to get the job done without

becoming bloated, like so many works in this genre. Carnage offers a fine opportunity to wallow in excess and feel

superior afterward.


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