Monday, January 23, 2012

Carnage

By Sati. Monday, January 23, 2012 , , , , , , ,
74/100 (79 min, 2011)
Plot: Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the evening into chaos.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Yasmina Reza (based on the play by: "Le Dieu du carnage"), Yasmina Reza (screenplay)
Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz

...and the hamster runs free

"Carnage" is one of the most unusual movies Roman Polanski ever made - it's far from being his best, but as his previous movie "The Ghost Writer" there are only few key players here and they are all that matters. The world in "Carnage" is hermetic as well - almost entire film takes place in one apartment, during one conversation. Despite that the film is engaging - the four people talking in that apartment are so different that they are bound to explode. It's the fact that this explosion never really leads anywhere is the film's biggest flaw.

Two couples played by Jodie Foster, John c. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz meet to write a statement - first couple's- Penny and Michael - son was struck with a stick by mischievous son of Nancy and Alan. First things are polite - Penny, although very uptight and shocked by an event pretends to be all right. Michael acts like a supportive husband and kind guy. Nancy is nice to the hostess, acts reasonable while her husband Alan continuous to talk via his phone, ignoring everyone, occasionally using sarcasm and clearly not being very interested by the whole thing.

During the process of talking different subjects will be used - cobbler, the hamster that Michael abandoned outside, the incident that brought two couples to this moment right there and then...and during those talks, about lives, jobs and families the veil of pretense will slowly fall - Penny, Michael and Nancy are on the verge, ready to snap. They hold back, hide their true self, wanting to behave well and keep good manners. The only person who doesn't pretend is Alan - that's because he gradually releases his frustrations with every breath, he is the only one remotely calm in the end of the story.

"Carnage" is a fascinating character study - we have a neurotic who loves art and helping needy in Africa, simple guy who has his own demons - how else can you call abandoning small animal in the middle of the road - Nancy, who tries to be perfect in everything and Alan - who quite frankly, doesn't give a fuck about anything. They are all slaves to something - Penny to the idea that she can be a perfect human being. Michael to his good husband and father persona. Nancy to being flawless and having everything under control. Alan to his cellphone and his job. Ironically, it's the kids doing silly things and acting like savages, who are actually free, unlike their frustrated and bitter parents.
Many people expect comedies to be continuously funny - "Carnage" is not like that, but when you laugh - you laugh loud. Mostly because of Waltz who is absolutely wonderful here and completely captures your attention. There is one quite shocking scene that leaves him drying his trousers and introduces bucket into the scene. There are many little catalysts to the inevitable outbursts of madness and frustration of every character but that one unexpected event speeds things a lot even more - the more Penny and Michael want Nancy and Alan out of their apartment, the nicer they speak to them and the more angry they became on the inside.

But the film's ending is incredibly weak - so weak in fact, it actually manages to render the whole film forgettable. It's almost as if the authors had no idea how the end this movie, so they just abruptly finished it. The escalation of the emotions leads nowhere - in the end everyone just drink and shout. It's too bad because the ending is usually what the movie goer remembers best from the movie.
Still, the movie is definitely worth seeing for wonderful performances - Foster is amazing as a complete neurotic, Winslet is great in her hilarious performance and the moments when she was drunk took me back to her Golden Globe acceptance speech for "The Reader", Reilly finally has a performance that allows him to shine, unlike being in continuous shadow of Tilda Swinton in "We need to talk about Kevin" and Waltz manages to steal focus from absolutely everyone involved.

"Carnage" is a good movie, but it is extremely forgettable. However, it manages to delivers good laughs, it is brilliantly shot and features four great performances along with charming score by Alexande Desplat.

2 comments:

  1. I thought the ending was very weak and disappointing. The whole movie was great, especially Winslet and Foster and Waltz was amazingly funny. Desplat music was very good – that opening scene would miss so much without it. Great review Sati.

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  2. I actually thought the ending was very good _and_ when one thinks about it quite predictable. Here are these two sets of parents getting together in good part because they all feel on some level that "they have to." And how does it end up? Good job!

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