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Monday, January 23, 2012

Carnage Review

Carnage Review
2011, 79 minutes
Rated R for language

Carnage takes place in one apartment with four actors and no physical carnage and is ten times more interesting and original than Haywire, a globe-trotting action movie with a large A-list cast and lots of physical carnage.  Polanski's Carnage stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly and follows two couples, Foster and Reilly; Winslet and Waltz, who bicker after a dispute between their sons.  The movie is very good in many respects, but has a few minor problems.  The greatest strength of the movie is the acting.  Foster and Reilly stand out, though there is no weak link.  Foster plays a upper-class liberal ├╝ber-involved mother whose snide comments cause trouble.  She clearly has fun in her role and adds some great touches.  However, on some occasions, she takes the role too far and overacts.  However, this does not detract much from the character.

Reilly plays her husband, a sweet man who tries to mediate the conversations and keep the peace.  In this role, Reilly is quiet, which is unusual for him because after showing up in Cedar Rapids in hilarious, over-the-top fashion, it is nice to see this side of him.  Reilly is becoming more of a serious actor appearing in films such as this and We Need to Talk About Kevin, as opposed to when he works with Will Ferrell.

Winslet is also very good in her role as a nice, even-tempered woman...until she gets a few drinks in her.  Waltz plays her detached, cellphone-addicted husband and pulls off a very good American accent.

Polanski and Reza's screenplay is sharp, keeping true to the play.  The gradual decline of manners in the characters is carefully shown and the alliances that the characters make with each other shifts throughout the course of the movie.  By the end, Polanski and Reza show, the adults are just as bad as the kids bickering about petty issues.  Though the bickering gets to be too much after a while, it is certainly never boring.

Polanski's direction is very tight keeping the one-apartment action always interesting and always choosing the right camera angle.  Polanski's camerawork is the perfect match for the claustrophobic setting as he really made me feel uncomfortable during the opening scenes when the couples try to make small talk.  I felt what the characters felt during the beginning.  As things gradually fall apart, the structure of the film loosens releasing the tension and making me feel at ease and tired of the characters as they were of each other.

Overall, Carnage is not a perfect film, but entertaining and well-acted nonetheless.  I would absolutely recommend that you see this if you want a short, snappy, and smart comedy.  Do not see this if you are expecting a raunchy, dumb comedy or don't want to think about the film afterwards.  I would definitely see this movie again once it is released on DVD.

-Joshua Handler

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