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Carnage [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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Based on the acclaimed play ‘God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza, and directed by legendary auteur Roman Polanski, Carnage pits power couple Nancy (Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce, The Reader)) and Alan Cowan (Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz (Water for Elephants, Inglourious Basterds)) against the liberal writer and campaigner Penelope Longstreet (Academy Award-winner Jodie Foster (Panic Room, The Silence of the Lambs)) and her wholesaler husband, Michael (John C. Reilly (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Magnolia)). Unpredictable and shocking, the film hilariously exposes the hypocrisy lurking behind their polite façade.
Following a playground scuffle between their 11-year old children, the parents of the “victim” have invited the parents of the “bully” to their apartment to sort it out. Cordial banter gradually develops a razor-sharp edge as all four of the well-heeled American parents reveal their laughable contradictions and grotesque prejudices. None of them will escape the ensuing carnage in this hilarious new comedy. --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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The dialogue is agonisingly tense, the atmosphere claustrophobic and confrontational. Each of the our characters clash with the other protagonists. Rifts between couples emerge, and the men and women form allegences against the opposite sex. No-one supports anyone, and the 'meeting' descends into an alcohol-fuelled brawl - far worse than any playground children's dispute. The characters are each hideous in their own way. At first, they are composed and conceal their innermost thoughts and opinions, but as the film progresses every nasty, destructive judgmental comment spews forth,
The script is smart and the acting superb. I particularly liked the symbolism used throughout. Items, including a mobile phone, tulips, art books, trousers and a handbag are destroyed. The verbal punch-ups are interrupted throughout by mobile and phone conversations - everyone stops fighting and remains seething, waiting for the call to finish.
It was an uncomfortable hour, but an intriguing one and fascinating to the middle classes - like watching ourselves distort in a hall of mirrors into the grotesque characters that lurk behind the veneer in most of us. Scary.
And the file feels European. The action is entirely constrained to a single apartment, and is played out in real time as the brittle civility between the four characters breaks down. It's a comedy, but don't expect belly-laughs: it's a comedy of manners, and the humour is in the contrast between what the characters say and how they act towards each other.
Preparation for the filming was apparently comprehensive: the cast learned their lines as though they were presenting the play on stage, and they rehearsed the entire piece every day throughout the weeks of filming. Polanski's presentation is unmistakably Polanski; the resulting film is a superb miniature, acutely observed (Jodie Foster is particularly impressive), short (74 minutes) with a small cast, one set and hardly any props. It's a string quartet of a film rather than a symphony.
The DVD is likewise sparse. The extra is interviews with the four actors, all asked broadly the same set of questions - interesting if you want to know about Polanski's methods.
If you are in any way shy of socially difficult situations, this movie is uncomfortable viewing, but stick with it, it is strangely also affirming.
4 starts rather than 5 because there were one or two bits where I was left wanting to see even less restraint, and that's coming from me: a person who hates socially awkward situations!
In an effort to remain civil, the parents of the "attacker" visit the home of the "victim" in order to sort out the problem.
From the very beginning, there's a kind of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' style tension in the room that is always threatening to expand into something much worse, despite the fact that both sets of parents are initially interested in civil discourse. As events unfold, gradually the parents attitudes change and things become more and more uncomfortable.
'Carnage', due to Polanski's excellent handling of the directorial reins, never spills over into farce, even though the story threatens to do so at times. It's kept controlled and simmering, the tension lasts the whole running time and unlike the aforementioned Elizabeth Taylor film (as great as it is), it stays somewhat within the realms of reality.
The film is also helped immensely by excellent performances by the four leads, especially from Jodie Foster who just grabs her part and goes at it with great gusto. She also has the hardest role to play.
A short film that doesn't do anything more than expected of it and well worth a view.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sorry, but I wish that Polansky never did this one. John C. Reilly is not my cup of the.Published 1 month ago by Peter Thomsen
One of the best comedy films I've seen recently. Absolutely hilarious!Published 1 month ago by Milda
I am guessing that I would have enjoyed the actual play that the film was based on more than the film I have just watched. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dr David Bellamy
A bleak, black satire on modern manners,with excellent performances from all four cast members, particularly Jodie Foster as a tightly wound neurotic perfectionist. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Benjamin Frankly
Remarkably engaging study of two couples' building conflict over what starts as a fairly trivial concern about their childs' playground scuffle. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mike Moors
Bought it to show at our village cinema club, but after watching it, decided that it was not suitable lots of bad language, and with all there action being limited to two couples... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Riverdance
This is truly one of the best films I've seen! I love movies like the hangover, hot fuzz etc but this makes me laugh twice as hard as those other movies! Read morePublished 4 months ago by adrienne