Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 190


Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,181
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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


Kate Winslet
as Nancy Cowan
Jodie Foster
as Penelope Longstreet
Christoph Waltz
as Alan Cowan
John C. Reilly
as Michael Longstreet
Julie Adams
as Secretary
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Critic Reviews for Carnage

All Critics (190) | Top Critics (53) | Fresh (135) | Rotten (55)

Audience Reviews for Carnage

  • Jan 06, 2014
    Why can't they leave? From <i>El Ángel Exterminador</i> (1962), the answer has been implied. "It's absurd, but it's in their nature. They just can't!" Based on Yasmina Raza's play titled <i>Le Dieu du Carnage</i> (God of Carnage), Polanski adapts wonderfully and with a truly underrated array of great, though theatrical performances (especially Foster, who gets a lot of unfair criticism) a roller-coaster intellectual exercise of how your typical middle-class veil of politeness and mutual caring is broken down when either your ethical, social or moral standards are challenged by external factors that you cannot avoid because you were unwillingly involved in them since the very beginning. In this case, such factor is the son of a family hitting the son of the other. Catalogued in my book as one of the best "verbally gory" films, <i>Carnage</i> seems to carry some <i>Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf</i> (1966) parallelism of degradation, moral assault and lots of liquor, while two couples unrealistically, though justifiably theatrically, "word" each other to death, taking contradictory sides when the situation seems convenient and mirroring the impulses that they so much condemn in minors. After all, the immature impulses of adults are not that much different, now are they? Unfortunately, the adaptation to the big screen seems to drag along some unrealistic moments that seem to be placed in order for the plot to advance, e.g., the Cowans reaching the elevator twice and still not leaving because of secondary coffee invitations. Those moments could have been easily rewritten. Also, "realistically", any couple would have left after 15 or 20 minutes of arguing, so the script asks us to some suspension of disbelief and dig deeper into the original social criticisms and statements that the original material (the play) had instead of judging the film in terms of cinematic realism. Still, Polanski is still an expert in scenario construction and suspense escalation, not as masterfully as Hitchcock's single-location mysteries would manage, but more or less as interestingly as Polanski did in the 60s. 79/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 12, 2013
    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.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2013
    I did not know that this story was a play until right before watching this film. With that knowledge I enjoyed this much more. The performances were good and it felt as though I was watching a play. The apartment serves as the stage as it does not move or change. I thought the concept was well put together with Polanski behind the camera.
    Chris C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2012
    It's an atypical theatrical adaptation which works thanks to a top cast.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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