Our next movie is “Carnage,” Roman Polanski’s star-studded adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play “God of Carnage.” It follows an awkward afternoon – in real time – as two very different New York couples meet to talk after their sons get into a fight on the playground. Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly square off against Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz.
Pleasantries between bites of homemade cobbler quickly devolve into a series of passive-aggressive digs. Foster and Reilly are the touchy-feely, politically correct parents, while Winslet and Waltz are the distracted, harried professionals.
Eventually, though, they all find reasons to tear each other apart. And once the booze starts flowing, “Carnage” becomes a crucible that reveals the worst of human behavior. It’s a zippy, juicy train-wreck with four actors at the top of their game. But playwright Yasmina Reza’s words, which Polanski helped adapt for the screen, also provide piercing insight into the complexities of modern parenting. A big thumbs up from me.
IGNATIY: Big thumbs up from me as well. This is such a remarkably compact film. Right, there are only four speaking parts. They never leave the apartment. You never even see them get to the…as far as the elevator.
CHRISTY: And they’re in like two rooms. This is like a pressure cooker the entire time, right.
IGNATIY: The film is fairly short. It’s less than 80 minutes long, and what he manages to do with this, you know, you can say very compact material is really remarkable. How he manages to bring all of these characters and details out.
CHRISTY: Right, and they get showier and showier. Christoph Waltz is hilarious in this as just this crass, selfish businessman. Jodi Foster gets kind of screechy, but I think that’s intentional, and it’s very pointed kind of commentary on a very specific sort of smug militant New York mommy, and it’s just dead on in a lot of ways even though it was originally written in French. Seeing it made me want to go back and watch the play…the Broadway play with James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels. I mean with strong actors this stuff just sings.
IGNATIY: It’s great material and it’s got a really great sense of momentum of how one thing escalades into another and into another and into another. We should probably add it’s also really funny.
CHRISTY: It’s funny, but also there are no villains here. They all come off as jerks at some point and…
IGNATIY: And they all become sympathetic at some point as well.
CHRISTY: Yeah, you’re right.
IGNATIY: Even the Waltz character seems so cold-hearted, uh; he kind of gets his moment to explain himself.