Making its debut this weekend on Starz was last year’s “Carnage”.
Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, “Carnage” is a comedy based on a stage play. After a school yard altercation, the parents of the two boys involved get together briefly to discuss the incident. But what begins as a brief meeting to resolve an issue escalates into a quite a row.
Two sets of parents meet after their children are involved in a fight. Foster and Reilly play the parents of the assaulted child, while Winslet and Waltz play the parents of the boy who struck him. The two couples get together to civilly hash out how they’ll handle the discipline, but slowly frustrations between to emerge. Further, every time the visiting couple attempt to extricate themselves from the visit, circumstances intervene to preclude them from leaving and wind up extending the situation.
All four people are uptight in some fashion or another. Waltz is humorless and droll. He’s a high powered lawyer who keeps getting interrupted by his cell phone. Reilly is affable, but suppressed and frustrated by his wife. Foster is angered by the altercation between the children and has difficulty getting past it in conversation. In fact, she often tries to advise the other couple how to discipline their child. Winslet tries as best she can to keep the peace, but winds up having difficulties of her own.
As the couples debate turns towards argument, it also escalates beyond the boundaries of the schoolyard incident and into marriage, life, and social issues. The couples eventually begin to fight amongst themselves, the booze comes out, and then the fighting really starts.
The film is based on a stage play, and it has that feel to it. “Carnage” doesn’t leave the apartment, and rarely leaves the living room. The four trade lines of dialogue at a rapid pace, and it’s easy to envision them putting this on live. It’s fun to watch the situation slowly deteriorate, especially when John C. Reilly interjects his trademark dullard humor in-between the three quibbling intellectual characters. And there are certainly some excellent lines and a couple of really funny surprise moments along the way.
I did have some issues with it, though. The first being that, for such a short film (only 80 minutes), “Carnage” takes a while to get going. I understand they wanted to set the stakes, and establish a serious jumping off point, but it’s not all that enjoyable watching two couples bitch at each other over their kids. The other being that… and I don’t know how to say this without encroaching spoiler territory, but for a movie ABOUT an argument, I would have liked to have seen more… resolution. Let’s just say it that way.
It certainly had plenty of laughs along the way, but “Carnage” is a film that makes you work for them.