Its going to be a Marmite kind of film, your either going to Hate it with a passion or just absolutely Love it !
Me personally i Loved it! I thought it was original, written extremely well, it was acted beautifully which isn't a shock when its such a great cast! Its nice to see that Polanski has done one better than Ghost Writer as that was a truly dreadful movie!
Its made beautifully and it sticks to the true form of being a play, which is great!
Its Just a good movie that is thoroughly enjoyable and i just loved the ending a true play form which i loved!
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.
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.
There seems to be a conscious attempt by Polanski to position Carnage as a descendant of his acclaimed Apartment Trilogy, comprising Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant. Fans of his work who were not familiar with the play probably saw the film on the basis of his track record in generating unbearable tension within seemingly harmless domestic settings. And like his Apartment Trilogy, Polanski makes an on-screen appearance, peering around the door of the neighbouring apartment as the row between the characters begins to escalate.
But while there is a continuity of setting, the films lacks Polanski's motif of using architecture to express malevolence. He is a master at manipulating light, colour and composition to make something as plain and simple as a wall appear to be harbouring great threat towards the characters. When married to a story involving unreliable narration or mental instability, this aspect places increased doubt in the viewer's mind, deeply unnerving us as tension builds. In this case, we are given a pretty standard-looking, upmarket Brooklyn apartment, in which the characters sit and say their lines without much going on around them.
Carnage does attempt to explore a number of interesting ideas, of which some have contemporary significance and others have become staples of comedy or drama depicting middle-class life. It is, to coin a phrase, a "behind the picket fence" movie, insofar as it depicts characters and their living space as having a veneer of civility masking widespread corruption and immorality. This is a very familiar theme, which puts the film loosely in the company of Blue Velvet, The Stepford Wives and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (more on that later).
Where Carnage differs, certainly from the first two comparisons, is its relative lack of stylisation. Both David Lynch and Bryan Forbes went to some length to orchestrate and elevate the unease caused by their over-perfect, chocolate box suburbia, using music and the visuals to pull you into a dark and horrifying world. Polanski, for once, wishes to play the material with understatement, relying on the characters alone to create malevolence. And for the most part this decision works as much in its favour as anything else; we get to experience the characters' frustrations without feeling like our response is being shaped a certain way.
Within this basic, well-worn theme, the film raises various other questions or points for discussion. It explores the cause and effect behind acts of great evil, raising questions about whether responsibility lies with individuals or whether acts like war and genocide are the product of a society which influences and determines our behaviour. The film questions what constitutes making a difference, with Jodie Foster's character being mocked for wanting to write a book about Darfur; she believes she is making a difference, while her husband and guests say she just wants to feel good about herself.
The title of the original play, God of Carnage, is uttered by Christoph Waltz as an explanation for such catastrophic events. Both he and John C. Reilly's character share some kind of nihilistic outlook, believing that there is nothing that can be done to prevent such carnage wrecking the Earth. The group are divided into the Nearderthals (who, to quote The Dark Knight, "just want to watch the world burn") and the bleeding heart liberals who believe in making a difference. Neither group is shown to have any credibility: Waltz cannot cope when his phone is destroyed, and Foster and Kate Winslet both resort to heavy drinking
Both the play and the film have a very mean-spirited, ironic view of mankind. They posit the idea that when we try to behave and solve our problems like adults, we are only kidding ourselves and things very quickly break down into childish bickering. Rather, the best way is to live red in tooth and claw, to allow our animal urges to take control - and, wouldn't you know it, living in such short-termist, selfish and impulsive ways might actually work. While the four adults gradually collapse until they are nothing but shells, their children sort out their differences with no intervention whatsoever - a cruel joke whose irony is not lost on us.
For all the ideas that it explores, however, Carnage ends up being hamstrung by three major problems. The first is that is doesn't really feel like a film: it feels like a recording of the play, or perhaps an extended TV episode. The production values may be good, but in an age where HBO are producing dramas as slick as anything Hollywood can offer, that's no longer enough. Despite Jasmina Reza having a hand in the screenplay, it doesn't feel like it has been properly adapted; the camerawork is uninventive and the editing is all long, slow tracking shots, which mimic our heads turning as we watch people move about on stage.
The second problem with the film, and perhaps the play, is that all the characters are deeply, deeply annoying. They score over the characters in The Squid and the Whale, or any Noah Baumbach film, because at least in this case there is something going on. But if we don't pick up on or understand all of the philosophical undercurrents, it becomes nothing more than four over-privileged New Yorkers moaning for 80 minutes. Although it always feels like there is some kind of end to this means, their complaints are so banal or removed from reality that we often lack the patience or desire to spend more time with them.
The third and final problem with Carnage is its pomposity. It comes across as a film which is attempting to be edgy, outré, radical or controversial, and in advertising these characteristics so broadly and willingly it ends up being none of these things. Even if the underlying idea makes sense (whether or not you accept it), none of the other discussions feel adequately resolved. Desiring ambiguity is one thing; throwing in random chunks of philosophy in a bid to sound clever is something else.
These flaws become all the more clear when you compare the film to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Like Carnage, it is based around two couples coming together in a domestic setting and playing mind games, leading to examinations of class differences, sexism, madness, politics and professional rivalry. Neither Edward Albee's play nor Mike Nichols' film were trying to be seen as edgy or ground-breaking - they just were. Carnage is trying too hard to be seen as edgy without doing the hard work needed to make us feel on edge.
The saving grace of Carnage is the performers, who really give their all. The film is final proof, if ever it were needed, that John C. Reilly is at his best in dramatic roles, as demonstrated by his brilliant performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin. Christoph Waltz continues his knack of being the best thing in sub-par productions, following on from recent turns in The Green Hornet and The Three Musketeers. And Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet both manage to keep us interested, with the latter deserving extra points for vomiting so convincingly.
Carnage is a disappointingly stagey and pompous production from a man whose body of work is normally anything but these qualities. It's not a total failure, on account of the four strong performances and its conscious effort to raise ideas or issues, rather than settling for middle-class moaning in and of itself. But it has neither the development nor the bite nor the shock value of Virginia Woolf?, playing on your patience when it should be messing with your head.
For example, Jodie Foster plays the emotionally unstable mother who wants everything to be reasonable. Foster's character is the only one who makes you think 'I can understand why she is saying this'.
Next is John C.Reilly, the short tempered slacker, who trys to handle the unease that develops between both families, but does make it worse.
Chistoph Waltz is the upper class father, who cares more for his business than his family.
Finally, Kate Winslet is the mother who sees herself as the perfect mother, but won't confess of being wrong.
The tension that is created between both familes is interesting; it starts with a reasonable conversation, but ends with everyone acting like children.
The humour in this film is definitely dark, but only adults/parents will easily catch on. With a great cast and a unique sense of humour; 'Carnage' is a slow paced comedy that eventually explodes with insults and some good laughs.
Director: Roman Polanski
Summary: In this comic drama from director Roman Polanski, two sets of parents meet in the aftermath of an incident in which one of their children bullied the other. As the evening progresses, the adults confront each other in increasingly hostile ways.
My Thoughts: "The film works. I know some will hate it or love it, I happen to be one that enjoyed it. It's a funny film. It starts out being about their sons playground brawl, but it soon insues into madness when the conversations start getting personal and honest. They soon start verbally attacking one other, but also each others marriages as well as their own and one anothers parenting. It's a conversation you don't want to miss. The acting is great and has to be considering its set in one place. I wouldn't mind seeing it again."
Alan and Nancy Cowan (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) pay a visit to Michael and Penelope Longstreet (John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster) to discuss an upsetting schoolyard incident in which the first couple's son has beat up the other's. These four intelligent adults, hope they can resolve their differences with a positive approach and teach their children about responsibility, instead of resorting to physical or verbal abuse. However, things don't quite work out that way.
Having not seen or read the play, my experience of this is based solely on Polanski's version. He has been criticised for not capturing the claustrophobia of the play but I have to say that the film really worked for me. There is obvious tensions between the characters and with nowhere for them to go but to sit around a cramped apartment, talking through their differences, the tension builds admirably. Granted, it wasn't as intense as I was expecting but what it did have (that I wasn't expecting) was a lot of humour. This is mainly down to four joyful performances. Throughout their (intended) cordial meeting, each character displays their viewpoints. In the beginning, they're subtle but as tempers begin to fray, they get more vicious with their barrage of abuse towards one another. The conduct of their behaviour often reflects their chosen professions. Foster is an aspiring writer, choosing her words carefully; Waltz is a high profile attorney who jumps on her every word; Winslet the frustrated housewife and Reilly, a low-key salesman finding himself the go-between during the escalating discomfort. Each one of the four actors put in fine performances but Reilly and Waltz are the particular standouts. Polanski himself, doesn't have to do much but allow his actors to take charge of their roles. And that they do.
Capturing claustrophobic situations and heightened tensions between his characters is a notable gift that Polanski has shown throughout his films. The most notable comparison (also based on a stage play) is "Death And The Maiden". So, that being said, it's surprising that he was criticised for a lack of it here. If you go into this expecting humour then you won't be disappointed and it's always a bonus that the actual playwright contributes with the screenplay also.
A finely tuned chamber piece that delivers a real sense of uncomfortable cordiality. The characters are identifiable and the actors deliver with aplomb.
Like an ending maybe.