The astonishing Waltz steals the picture, possibly because he's the one with a rational perspective (despite his telephonic obsessiveness): He sees the whole exercise as pointless. Ultimately, so do we.
The entire point of Carnage is to poke fun at the fragile civility of the upper-middle class - they're all animals inside! - but how much more fun would this material have been if the story hadn't been about polite white people?
Seeing these four actors launching Reza's zingers at each other at high speed is pretty much worth the price of admission all by itself, and one thing you always know about Polanski is that he won't waste your time.
I was put off by the acting, or more properly by the spectacle of good actors dutifully following leaden direction, and equally by the writing, which is as thin as the veneer of civilization it purports to peel back.
Polanski has earned the right to pursue his career-long demons of confinement and anarchy even in a minor film like this. But Carnage is not the word for what he's perpetrated here. Minor irritation is more like it.
Scathing and funny and cynical about contemporary society and the hypocritical way we live now, Carnage may not be the dream movie I expected, but it has a dream cast of pure, unimpeachable ensemble perfection.
Even as it successfully evokes the single location as a pressure cooker for heightened behavior, its take on the psychological and emotional side effects of such an airless situation never transcends the obvious.
Snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old, this adaptation of Yasmina Reza's award-winning play God of Carnage fully delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece...