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Carnage (2011)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 174
Fresh: 124 | Rotten: 50

It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski's smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 46
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 21

It isn't as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski's smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 21,132

My Rating

Movie Info

Carnage is a razor sharp, biting comedy centered on parental differences. After two boys duke it out on a playground, the parents of the "victim" invite the parents of the "bully" over to work out their issues. A polite discussion of childrearing soon escalates into verbal warfare, with all four parents revealing their true colors. None of them will escape the carnage. -- (C) Sony Pictures Classics


Drama, Comedy

Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski

Mar 20, 2012


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (176) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (124) | Rotten (50) | DVD (4)

Brief, brutal and barmy.

January 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Where previously we felt as trapped in Polanski's apartments as his characters, in Carnage we only ever peek in through the window.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: The Atlantic | Comment (1)
The Atlantic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The actors seem to have fun, particularly Foster, working against type as the thoroughly unlikable Penelope. But "Carnage" isn't nearly as bloody as it thinks it is.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What are supposed to be transgressive observations about the holy state of parenthood and matrimony instead come across as self-satisfied and shallow as the pieties Reza intends to puncture.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If we grant that "Carnage" is a low-impact exercise in stripping away the social veneer, it's nonetheless brisk and enjoyable.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In real life, hyper-controlling metropolitan parents would not waste this much time on people they loathe.

January 12, 2012 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Comments (3)
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While the film, at a staggering and quick 80 minute runtime, plays exceedingly well off the energy of the performers, the downfall ultimately lies in a "loss of steam" vigor that is evident by picture's end.

September 14, 2014 Full Review Source:

Few recent movies have been this perceptive about such immediate human conflicts, much less this funny.

June 12, 2014 Full Review Source:

Running a mere 80 minutes, "Carnage" still feels longer than it should.

September 25, 2013 Full Review Source:

Statically filmed by Polanski the film version lacks punch and zest.

September 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass

A veteran of stage-to-screen adaptations, the filmmaker in exile turns to Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage for his latest and shortest feature, but on this occasion, the translation harvests little from its perhaps meager source.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

An intriguingly verbose film about adult arguments, which aren't that different from playground jousts.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

This is an actors' movie, although it's not always pleasant. Waltz has the most fun, and is the most enjoyable to watch. He also exchanges dialogue with Winslet that best sums up the story's absurdist nature: "Why are we still in this house?"

April 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

[Polanski] has crafted a bizarre little film that runs only about 75 minutes, uses one location, and only four characters who spend most of the film sitting/standing around talking or shouting at each other, yet the film is engaging and entertaining.

September 17, 2012 Full Review Source:

Carnage is ... very accessible, really enjoyable and, thanks mostly to a brilliant cast with an undeniable talent for comedy, really rather funny.

September 13, 2012 Full Review Source:

Given the powerhouse performers involved, this thing should have gone off like a powder keg, but [director Roman] Polanski apparently directed the film by text...A terrible film.

June 30, 2012 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Carnage is neatly directly, sharply scripted and outstandingly performed drama. It's voyeuristic, it's relevant and it's hilarious.

April 26, 2012 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

A delightfully uncivilised car-crash of a meeting.

April 12, 2012 Full Review Source:

I thought the highlight of the film was after the guests eat Foster's homemade fruit cobbler, Winslet vomits over hubby and Foster's precious coffee table books.

March 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Carnage is ... more of a curiosity than a major experience - but it's fun and funny, and sometimes that's enough.

March 11, 2012 Full Review Source: ABC Radio (Australia)
ABC Radio (Australia)

Parents and married couples, especially, will get a lot out of the biting commentary in Carnage. Not a cinematic triumph but a good way to flex the frontal lobe of your brain for a bit.

March 8, 2012 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

Each character seems to be rushing through their arguments and it's as if every single word has been over thought.

March 5, 2012 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

The only thing worse than watching good actors turn in bad performances is witnessing a good director go with the motions, which is exactly what Polanski does here.

March 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Matt's Movie Reviews

Although the play isn't quite as successful or penetrating on screen, it works as an entertainingly vicious doubles tennis match between two pairs of terrific actors.

March 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Polanski hasn't had this much fun in years and neither, by the looks of things, has his cast. A wickedly dark delight.

February 26, 2012 Full Review Source: The Sun Herald
The Sun Herald

The screenplay develops beautifully as layer after layer of civilised behaviour is pared back. The awkward interaction of parents about their boys switches gear to become a hostile interaction of couples about their inner demons and relationship struggles

February 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Carnage

Carnage isn't half as witty or clever as it thinks it is. It's melodramatic, white 50 something (starring 40 somethings) middle-class rubbish. It's mildly amusing but the 'it's funny cos it's true' aspect doesn't ring true here at all because it's not that funny and not that true. The idea is basic, the story is basic, it's based on a theatrical play with only 4 actors, I get that side of the 'basics', but I'm afraid I just found the intelligence and comedy just that little too 'basic' as well. I'm glad the Hamster survived though. I expect more from Polanski but the performances were good considering. If there is anything worse than the worst of Woody Allen, it's people attempting to be like Woody Allen.
September 15, 2014

Super Reviewer

Too unsubstantial to be a great movie. Pretty much two couples in one room arguing about a physical fight their sons got into. I believe it is adapted from a play. As such it feels unnatural and strained that they all stay in the room, annoyed as they are at each other.
Performances are good. I'm not a parent, so the topic was not overly exciting to me. Maybe others would get more out of it.
October 9, 2013

Super Reviewer

I guess I am not a Roman Polanski fan...I'm still looking for the dark humor, or any humor, for that matter...
May 15, 2013

Super Reviewer

This is based on a play, and that's essentially how it comes off, only filmed.

The plot here focuses on the aftermath of a fight between two kids on a playground. The parents of the 'victim' invite the parents of the 'bully' over to their home for a discussion of how to handle the situation/raise children in general. Over the course of no more than a few hours, their conversation goes from polite to all out savage, with each person turning on the other, showing their true colors, and illustrating how a little disagreement can cause a lot of carnage.

Aside from outdoor shots at the park that serve as bookends, the rest of the film takes place in the rooms (and extremely briefly) the hallway of the apartment of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster)- the parents of the 'victim'. Given this set up, and how there's not really any cinematic flourishes going on, the film's success is absolutely dependent upon the writing and acting. This film is really almost nothing but talking, but man is it some juicy stuff.

Besides the previously mentioned Reilly and Foster, the other parents, Nancy and Alan Cowan, are played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. Given that this is directed by Polanski, and features three Oscar winners (one of them a double), and an Oscar nominee, this has to be good. Has to. And thankfully, it mostly is.

Reilly might be the weakest link here, but I think he's robably the funniest and most easy to relate to. Everyone gets their moments, but even though Reilly might be the most relatable, none of them are totally sympathetic, and the film makes it difficult to discern who should be rooted for, if anyone. That's what I liked about it. Each one has a good side, and they're all well-rounded, but it's their savagery and flaws that stick out most (probably on purpose), and seeing four not totally sympathetic people act horrible has a perversely dark joy to it., with a big chunk of the laughs being of the dark variety to begin with.

Yeah, this is a polarizing movie, and won't be for everyone, but it is a great display of acting, and seeing these specific performers in the roles is what helps make it great. I do think the conclusion is anti-climactic, and could have been better handled, and maybe the film shouldn't have been book ended by moments outside the apartment, but still, this film is kinda gutsy. It's certainly not boring, but I was really left wanting more after it was done, and not exactly in a good way, either. It's certainly fun while it lasts, even if it is quite brief.
November 2, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Nancy Cowan: Look at him all hunched over like he was left on the side of the road.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Alan Cowan: Keep on stroking your own ego. It's beautiful.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Michael Longstreet: Penelope, what happened to your sense of humor?
    2. Penelope Longstreet: I don't have a sense of humor, and I don't want one!
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Nancy Cowan: How can you let her call our son a criminal? We come over here to work things out with them and they, they insult us, they browbeat us, they lecture us about being good citizens of the planet! I am glad our son kicked the shit out of your son and I wipe my ass with your human rights!
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Nancy Cowan: I've got a John Wayne idea of manhood, too. What is it he had? A Colt .45. Something that empties a room. Any man that doesn't have those loner vibes just doesn't come off as having any substance.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Alan Cowan: Penelope, I believe in the god of carnage. The god whose rule has been unchallenged since time immemorial.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
View all quotes (27)

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