CARNAGE (2011)

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Directed By: Roman Polanski
Written By: Yasmina Reza & Roman Polanski
Based on The Play By: Yasmina Reza
Translation By: Michael Katmis
Cinematography: Pawel Edelman
Editor: Herve De Luze 

Cast: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz 

In New York’s Brooklyn Bridge park, eleven year old Zachary strikes his eleven year old classmate Ethan. The boy’s parents learn of the fight and meet to deal with the incident. Although the meeting starts civilized, it quickly degenerates after an unfortunate incident, and soon, their meeting is not only about their boys’ fight, but also the couple’s fitness as parents.

There is technically nothing wrong with this movie, but considering the talent involved it should have felt a lot stronger. Especially for a film in which it is shot in real time with no breaks and except for some park scenes in one location. Just like putting on a theatrical production.

Based on the hit broadway play. The film pretty much stays in a single location. A couples apartment, but as other films such as CLERKS have shown us it’s still plausible to make a film entertaining, Even riveting in limited or single locations. Unfortunately this film never reaches those heights. Nor really approaches them.

The film gets more interesting as the film goes along but still never really excites. The direction of the film by Director Roman Polanski seems more aesthetic then getting to the heart of the situations and characters. In Fact the whole concept of the play is more plausible on the stage rather than the screen. As with the stage it is rather obvious why it must be contained. Since it seems ridiculous these warring parties would really stay in the same room unless forced. Even though here no one really is really forcing them.

As the story goes along. Their civil masks come off and they reveal themselves and their true thoughts and identities and even have shifting alliances. The dialogue is sharp. Though one of the main problems is that the insinuating situation feels more like an excuse to set these different mindsets on one another. That feels more like a debate of ideals more than anything else.

Christoph Waltz gives the best performance of the film. His role seems more late yuppies caricature and the source for most of the comic relief. As he seems to be the only actor who tries to play more surface and not too deep.

It’s strange to see Kate Winslet in the more hysterical buttoned down role here. It might have made the film more interesting for everyone to have switched roles. As the male actors it would have been interesting to see them not play roles we are used to them playing. For the women not so much.

John C. Reilly slowly grows into his role. Jodie Foster is over the top in her performance. Though her character is so annoying. She is instantly unlikeable. That seems to be one of the problems with the film. Is that none of these characters is likeable.

Which is fine movies don’t necessarily have to ha e likeable characters though films usually have a character the audience can identify with this has not are any of them as interesting as the writer of the play thinks they are. So it becomes really hard to care about them or what happens.

The story seems to be a look at So Called liberal couples and different approaches at parenthood. It just feels each is too judgmental and all seems like statements and clever wordplay instead of actually saying anything.

Maybe it would have been more interesting with the plays original cast Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Marcia Gay Harden as it would essentially be a filmed version of the play but at least having the cast that originated the roles would have brought out nuances in the characters and performances. Unfortunately at this time since it’s still more about box office. Even for films that are more artistic. It seems Polanski decided to go with more bigger names and a more illustrious cast.

GRADE: C

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