Movie Review: Carnage

Carnage (2011)
80 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly

Grade: B

Two 11-year-old boys get into a scuffle in the park. The scene is shot from a distance so you can’t fully understand what provoked the incident, but the end result is one boy striking another in the face with a stick. The parents of both boys decide to meet and resolve the differences that their children have created.

The entire film, adapted from the Tony-Award winning “God of Carnage,” takes place at Penelope (Foster) and Michael (Reilly) Longstreet’s Manhattan apartment. From the looks of things, they make quite a living for a salesman and a writer. The other couple are Alan (Waltz) and Nancy (Winslet) Cowan. Their boy was the one swinging the stick and Lonstreet’s boy is now healing, but things aren’t as easy as that.

What starts out as two civilized couples enjoying tea and cobbler at the coffee table turns into a malicious free-for-all regarding their personal lives, occupations and relationships. By free-for-all, I mean that both couples even begin to take sides with someone other than their spouse. What makes this all worth watching is how engaging each actor is inside their character.

The film does an excellent job walking the line and staying unbiased. You could assume that the kid with the missing teeth is the victim, but what caused him to be attacked? The parents argue for the better half of the film about the situation, but everything escalates when whiskey is poured, including the destruction of some very important yellow tulips.

The cast is phenomenal and having such strong actors was necessary to carry this 80-minute production where each character goes through such transformations. The film excelled in the aspect where there isn’t a clear right or wrong, but depending on the kind of person you are and your beliefs, you’ll find yourself siding with a certain character. Maybe fifteen minutes later, another character will say something you believe in and you’ll start to side with them. That’s how the film sucks you into the apartment and practically sits you down for some tea and cobbler. But when it comes down to it, just like everyone else, you’ll end up siding with your child no matter what he or she did.

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