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Movie Reviews






Released: 2011

Directed By: Roman Polanski

Starring: Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Forster, John C.Reilly

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Originally conceived as a malicious minded play back in 2006 by Yasmin Reza, controversial figure Roman Polanski has taken it upon himself to deliver a cinematic interpretation of ‘God of Carnage’. Now on paper, four well spoken and very opinionated individuals verbally slugging it out for 80 minutes in one domesticated setting doesn’t initally scream ‘engaging fare’. But when you’ve got such well respected A list heavyweights on hand to get their teeth stuck into such meaty dialogue, it normally sways the pendulum in the right direction.

Shifting the action into more contemporary times and predominantly based in a swanky downtown NYC apartment, two couples confront each other over an unfortunate altercation that occurs between their sons Zackary and Ethan. Let’s just say.. someone ends up needing a good dentist! In the red corner, we have the firm principles and peculiar lover of all things Africa, Penelope (Jodie Foster) and the laidback plumber seemingly forced into the middle classes Michael (John C. Reilly).

In the blue, we have the snobby pairing of corporate attorney Alan (Christophe Waltz) who may as well commit bigamy and marry his high tech Blackberry along with the seemingly emotionally contained Nancy (Kate Winslet). What starts out as exchanging pleasentries over tasty treats soon descends into all out warfare. The simmering rage eventually exploding into life, no thanks to a tickly stomach creating an unexpected but truly grossout moment.

‘Carnage’ never quite escapes its theatrical trappings, which to many will hardly be a surprise with the material’s origins. The style may polarize audiences, especially with the shortcomings that come with the rigid scenario. However, ‘Carnage’ is compensated by the fact, that the intelligent script is packed full of sharp edged one liners delivered with aplomb by its phenomenally assembled cast. The unravelling of Foster and Winslet as their values are challenged is a hoot, Reilly is always at his best when his foul mouthed comic wit is allowed to cut loose but the film truly belongs to Waltz. His slimy and venomous demeanour coupled with the ongoing phone gag that grates with his counterparts, makes for some real mischevious moments.

The emphasis on family and the sense of community here perhaps is the ammunition for Polanski to challenge the current state of society and how perhaps, it has collectively flushed its well spirited morals down the drain. In turn, veering towards the no holds barred self indulgence of being vicious and more critical of other people’s lives that we are now accustomed to seeing in the news and on general television.

Undeniably an acquired taste and perhaps a little too short for its own good, ‘Carnage’ is certainly not aimed at the masses. But seeing four fierce actors at the top of their game spurred on by the zingy script, proves to be a thoroughly entertaining experience that deserves exposure. Engrossing stuff!

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