January 24, 2012 2 Comments
Directed by Roman Polanski and based on a hit play ‘The God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza, ‘Carnage’ is a drama comedy about two couples who gather in an apartment to discuss and settle their sons’ playground brawl. Although the cast is great in this film, and the film has funny moments, unfortunately, ‘Carnage’ still suffers from some major flaws, and one of them is the inability to capture the humour and wit of a theatrical play.
In ‘Carnage‘ we have two couples, each having their own way of dealing with life events. They gather to discuss the best way to handle the injury inflicted by one couples’ son onto another. Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) is a lawyer and cynic, whose way of dealing with any misbehaviour problem is to accept it as inevitable given that the society is governed by humans. Alan is a ‘modern’ man obsessed with modern technology and constantly on his cell phone talking about his daily job. Alan’s wife, Nancy (Kate Winslet) is an investment broker, who, although appearing sympathetic, still somehow shares her husband’s cynicism deep inside. Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) is a plumbing salesman, whose usual way of dealing with the violent matter is to trivialise it. His wife Penelope (Jodie Foster), a writer, can be described as a very representation of morality and order. She is an idealist, who is very traditional in her life outlook. So, as the couples gather in the Longstreet’s living room and start a friendly and polite conversation about their sons’ incident, their true uncomplimentary personalities and immature ideas about life start to emerge.
As the film deals with clashes of four different personalities, and two radically different lifestyles, the couples’ interaction is interesting to observe. During the course of one day, starting with a simple discussion on how best to reconcile their boys, Cowans and Longstreets progress on such topics as materialism, racism, idealism, cynicism, human nature, society, world peace and sufferings in Africa. In the midst of this ‘philosophical’ discussion, we see instances of hysteria, self-induced confessions pouring out and nervous breakdowns taking place.
‘Carnage’ is definitely to be enjoyed to its full extent in a theatre. ‘The God of Carnage’ is not a play which can easily be converted into a film. It is difficult to ‘sell’ some of the play’s funny and shocking moments on screen as the immediacy and intimacy are inevitably lost. When in theatre, one often catches every word spoken with gluttonous interest. However, it is very difficult to do so when watching a film. Is is true that ‘Carnage’ stays true to the play, but maybe that is where it has gone astray. Although the film does try the ‘American Beauty’ (1999) route, and becomes a witty drama sitcom as a result, it only manages to do so at the cost of losing its unpredictability. The film also at times gets very tiresome and there is sometimes a pressing feeling of something essential ‘missing’ from it. On the positive note, however, ‘Carnage’ is a nicely executed film by a director who is not novice in shooting films in enclosed locations, ‘Repulsion’ (1965), ‘The Tenant’ (1976), and all actors involved give terrific performances.
At times funny, at times shocking, ‘Carnage’ still, unfortunately, lacks the subtle humour and wit implicit in the original play. Arguably, the only thing that saves this film from a total disaster is an outstanding acting done by an outstanding cast. 6/10