“You can’t get over something while you’re still under it” says Michael in the midst of the chaos that ensues in Roman Polanski’s latest film Carnage. The premise is as follows, two couples Michael and Penelope Longstreet (John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster) and Nancy and Alan Cowen (Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz) choose to meet up after both their sons get into a playground scuffle which ends up with Cowen’s son knocking out the others front teeth. Simple enough, yet extremely affective.
Carnage, which is based on the play God of Carnage written by Yasmina Reza takes place almost entirely (give or take the opening explaining how they got there) in the home of the Longstreet’s where the two couples try and figure out how the issue should be resolved. These types of film, which arguably are a genre amongst themselves either work well or not at all. This is no exception as Carnage is a solid film that shows confident fluidity throughout.
It doesn’t take us long to realise during the short but sweet 77 minute running time that the parents are much more crazy than their kids are. Alan is always on the phone to work much to the dismay of weak stomached and slightly neurotic Nancy while Penelope is an emotional wreck. These points are exactly what makes the film work so well, since these are the only four characters that appear, they all seem to play off of each other interestingly, one minute their on their spouses side, the next they find themselves on their gender doubles, or no one’s at all. And believe me, it only gets worse when the fifth character is introduced. Alcohol.
Ultimately the fact that these characters are always somewhat in the right or wrong throughout is what makes them so believable and appealing to watch, and although the resolution wasn’t personally to my taste (which I won’t ruin for those who haven’t seen it), Carnage is a film with brilliant actors, good characters and a charmingly funny script.