Carnage (2011): Comedy of the Correct

Carnage (2011 film)
Carnage (2011 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just finished watching Roman Polanski‘s Carnage. Adapted from the play ‘Le Dieu du carnage‘ written by Yasmina Reza and adapted for the screen by Yasmina and Roman Polanski. I have not laughed so hard in ages.

John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster play Michael and Penelope Longstreet whose son Ethan gets the business end of a stick in his mouth from Zachary Cowan son of Nancy and Alan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz).

At the beginning of the film both couples are united in their dual purpose of handling the fight between their sons like civilized adults.

Investment broker Nancy and her lawyer husband Alan both admit that their son Zachary hit Ethan in the mouth with a stick as part of a fight.

Michael and Penelope are magnanimous in their acceptance of Zach’s parents admission of culpability. Everything is correct and proper.

The trouble begins when Nancy and Alan attempt  repeatedly to leave with promises of returning with Zachary later in the evening to get the boys to talk out their differences.

The longer the two couples are together the more their separate facades begin to slip and the true nature of their relationships with family and each other starts to show. As the cracks widen we get to see the real people underneath.

Penelope is an anal bleeding heart liberal who is rabid in her belief that people can settle their problems in a civilized manner.  Michael is a hot headed, short tempered, narrow minded bigot.

Nancy is a stressed out, bored and unhappy woman. Alan has no interest in anything that does not directly affect his business.

As the situation gets consistently worse, a bottle of scotch is introduced into the mix, with hysterical consequence’s. As the two couples drink, allegiances are formed, broken and reformed.

What was initially couple versus couple, the ebb and flow of the group dynamic goes from men against women, to the couples doing a metaphorical ‘do-se-do’ where the couples switch partners.

The alcohol relaxes their inhibitions and brings out the childishness and selfishness inherent in all the ‘adults’

Polanski has lost none of his touch in this brilliantly funny ‘domestic’ comedy. Of course the writer of the original play Yasmina Reza deserves a huge amount of credit for writing such brilliant multi-layered characters.

God of Carnage original West End production poster

I will warn you, the first part of the film is a little hard to watch. It is a little like watching a train lumbering forward into a crash and you know that the characters are not going to be able to avoid it.

But hang in there, like a slow building avalanche, the interaction  between the four people gets hysterically funny. It’s worth the wait.

About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Entertainment background. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Old journos never retire, they start their own site. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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