Sunday, 5 February 2012


For those readers waiting for me to say something more critical about a film’s acting and directing, your wait is over.

Roman Polanski’s last film was my second-favourite film of 2010 (The Ghost Writer). This time he has taken a well-known play by Yasmina Reza and turned it into a film that doesn’t quite work. Carnage is an eighty-minute conversation (and heated argument) between two New York City couples who end up consuming an entire bottle of expensive Scotch, with predictable consequences. The couples, who are meeting for the first time, have been brought together because one of their boys hit the other in the face with a stick.

Polanski assembled a great cast for Carnage, including Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, but I was decidedly unimpressed with all of the performances. Perhaps Polanski is to blame for the over-the-top acting and unrealistic reactions (which might work on stage but not in a film), but none of the actors were particularly believable (the men fared slightly better than the women).

Carnage does show how unhappy all four of these characters are, despite what they generally display to the outside world. One is a workaholic, one is his neglected wife, one is a peacenik who is not at peace and one is her insecure husband whose patience is waning. The characters themselves were entertaining and the dialogue was often quite funny, with a few profound moments, but, in the end, the screenplay and direction were disappointing.

Given my critique, it might be surprising that I am giving Carnage ***, but the fact is that I want to see it again. My prime criterion for *** (as opposed to less than that) is that I would like to watch the film again. So my mug is up but the taste of the stuff inside sure did not live up to the expectation generated by the ingredients.

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