Carnage ****

Running time: 79 mins Certificate: 15

 

Synopsis: After their two 11 year-old sons fight in a local park, two families gather in one of their apartments to discuss the issue. But the talks becomes more and more out of control as the day goes on.

 

Adapted from the play “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, the film is co-written and directed by Roman Polanski. It takes place in the New York apartment of Michael (John .C. Reilly) and Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) whose son has been hit in the face by another child in a squabble between kids. Following the incident Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) meet the Longstreets in their apartment to discuss it.

 

The film begins with a perfectly civil conversation between the two sets of parents, however when Michael  invites the pair to stay for coffee, the conversation turns into an argument as differences between the couples start to come out.

 

The arguments between the couples range from the original issue (i.e. the boys fighting) to differences in opinion regarding work, violence and parenting. Towards the end the arguments shift in dynamic from couple vs couple to men vs women, which makes for some entertaining scenes. The scene in which Nancy vomits spectacularly over the apartment is a cracker… particularly the look on Penny’s face when she realises her precious art books are covered in it. The constant ringing of Alan’s phone, which eventually leads to an infuriated Nancy throwing it in water is also laughable but realistic at the same time.

 

One criticism I do have is the fact that each time the Cowans attempt to leave, the Longstreets find a reason for them to stay. In a real life situation, the couples would likely wish to part ASAP, but in this case the meeting continues for the duration of the film.

 

Set in one room over a period of less than two hours, Carnage could easily have been boring. In this case, however, good performances by the actors and the use of comedy make it work.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Watt

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