Mar 022012


A playground altercation brings two very different couples together, in this witty film which is about more than just differences in parenting. Check out our review of Carnage after the jump.

Based on the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, Carnage is a compact film in both length and setting. The film plays out almost completely in the New York apartment of Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) Longstreet. The Longstreet’s son has had his teeth knocked out by a child at school, and the parents of his attacker, Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christopher Waltz) Cowan have come to the apartment to discuss the incident. What starts off as a very polite discourse between the two couples, soon turns to complete carnage.

While it initially starts off as a discussion about different parenting techniques and what should be done about the incident, the conversation quickly evolves into a commentary on modern living. The couples discuss and argue the merits of their jobs, the point of having political causes, and animal cruelty – just to name a few. Each of the characters have quite distinct personalities, so the film offers very interesting views and perspectives on these relevant, modern topics. The dialogue is just so slick and clever – it feels like the sort of thing you’d like to say in witty banter but never quite can.


The characters are really what makes this film something worth viewing. All of the actors do a fantastic job, but we especially love Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz as the parents of the child who committed the violence. While Nancy starts off as a very refined and polite upper-class lady, that quickly goes out the window once she becomes ill. In her hastiness to recover from her illness she decides that having a few drinks would be a good idea. Some people are happy drunks – well not Nancy! She is a talkative, let it all out drunk. And boy does she let it rip in the most satisfying fashion.

Waltz’s character Alan is probably the most interesting of the four because, he is the only once which shows his true colours right from the start. He is a workaholic that doesn’t really care about anything outside of his small and very important world. He is polite to a point but he never pretends to care. It’s very amusing to watch his reaction as the rest of the characters change around him. He calls them out on things they say and is one of those rare and trying people in life who doesn’t sugar coat a single thing – even when he knows better.

While the film is only 79 minutes long, it feels it and doesn’t need to be a moment longer. The first half of the film does feel drawn-out at times, and the gag of them getting to the door and coming back in the apartment does get a bit old. Overall, Carnage is an intelligent and witty film that contains some of the finest smart comedy we’ve seen in a long time.

We’d quite like to see the play now!

The Facts

Director: Roman Polanski
Writer(s): Yasmina Reza (Play & Screenplay), Roman Polanksi
Starring: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christopher Waltz, John C. Reilly
Runtime: 79 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: March 1st 2012; New Zealand: April 2012 (exact date not set)