The Twenty-First Century

Carnage [2011]

I’ve never seen the play on which “Carnage” was based, so I came in with a clean slate, with no expectations. I admire Roman Polanski and I’m a huge fan of his movies, but I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t stand “Carnage”. For 80 minutes of running time, we watch two “civilized” New York couples being immature as they discuss an upsetting schoolyard incident in which the first couple’s son has beat up the other’s. At first, these four adults sound like intelligent people. But as we move along, we learn that they are as silly and childish as their sons. The couples are played by Jody Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Watlz. The film, like a play, never leaves the apartment. I’m sure it wouldn’t matter on stage. But onscreen, it feels awfully claustrophobic (unlike Hitchcock’s “Rope” for instance). Waltz gives it his best and steals the show, possibly because he’s the one with the rational perspective. He sees the whole discussion as pointless, and at some point, so do we. The film is full of madness, hypocrisy and a scene in which Winslet’s character barfs all over the place. This sounds hilarious, on stage maybe. Onscreen, it’s just too much. The occasional insights and observations can’t make up for the lack of story, or the loathsome cast of characters.  In other words: spending time with these spectacularly neurotic couples is no fun at all.

Rating: 2/4

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