Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, a fight between two young boys in a park prompts their respective parents to convene in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the situation.
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Mundane tragicomic dystopia where a bunch of middle-class types with ideological clashes whip up a frenzy. Foster, Reilly, Winslet and Waltz clearly had a lot of fun with this one. Its conversational emphasis and nounness of interior location seems almost primed for theatre (hence, God of Carnage) - the blurred boundary between these mediums is increasingly interesting. A case to distance the art from the artist.
Carnage opens on a static long take showing a violent dispute between two children. It's followed by an analogous deterioration between their parents, who are contained within one apartment in which the viewer is also brilliantly situated by the camera's placement and numerous tracking shots as another member of the chaos. Social norms break down and notoriously the children they so (un)lovingly protect are absent.
Painful. A slight but amusing comedy onstage (cast with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and the sublime James Gandolfini) becomes a leaden heavy handed would be exercise in (bogus) social commentary -- dreadful. Waltz should give back at least one of his Oscars as penance for his dreadful performance here.
After every tirade I was waiting for everyone to yell "ACTING" and then bow to the audience. A pretty atrocious bore with embarrassing performances. I'm usually down for cinematic translations of stage plays but this one plays poorly.
"Take out the papers and the trash / Or you don't get no spendin' cash / If you don't scrub that kitchen floor / You ain't gonna rock and roll no more / Yakety yak (don't talk back)" The Coasters, 1958. Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller.
Huis-clos heaven! That ensemble cast was superb. The beginning had some Haneke to it, did it not? I was reading the credits, and the kids quietly surrounded the stick-holding kid and then bam. Where did that came from. And Yasmina Reza? Hugs? Superb play. The dialogue. The subtext. The tension. The inner violence. Violence within. Like Hitch, "---rather the impression of violence". Polanski is back. YES!
CARNAGE is a seriously insane chamber piece, with the characters finding their facade of manners and understanding crumbling away as the dark side of human nature boils to the surface, going from a restrained conflict of families, to an ugly battle of class and sexes. It reminded me of Bunuel's work, having a great deal in common with EXTERMINATING ANGEL, along with Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
The film is amusing and entertaining enough with a nice cast paired with a great director, but it's still ultimately a stageplay made into a film that I'd rather see as a stageplay. It's also an obvious Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? knockoff.