Carnage

Out Now On-Demand

A new comedy of no manners.

Master filmmaker Roman Polanski's adaptation of Yasmina Reza's comedy play, God of Carnage.

Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly play two sets of parents who meet after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl. It seems, however, that childishness doesn't diminish with age as the initially cordial meeting dissolves into chaos. The action is set entirely within a city apartment.

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Directed by

Written by

Adaptation, Comedy, Drama

79mins

Rating: M contains offensive language

France, Germany, Poland, Spain

Official Site

A Polanski comedy seems like an oxymoron, but great things are bound to happen when you give the director worthy material, regardless of genre. Almost immediately, we’re given a sense that neither one of these characters are the flawless human beings their facades suggest, with the following 79 minutes dedicated to proving that.

Tensions burn slowly between the incompatible couples (as well as the respective spouses) as they slowly chip away at each other’s tolerance. One by one, they reach a breaking point and, before they can reach a wholesome moment of mitigated relief, something else furthers the chaos. The gradual collapse from their built-up politeness-driven personas to their broken, honest selves is extremely well-done and immensely satisfying to watch.

The cast are on their A-game. Winslet displays projectile levels of stress (you’ll know what I mean) while Waltz effortlessly triggers an apathetic gaze that says “I really don’t give a crap about your stupid opinions.” Jodie Foster pulls out a career best since The Silence of the Lambs, playing a self-indulgent, attention-seeking super-liberal to such irritating perfection that you want to high-five her in both the hand and the face.

The ending cuts off abruptly, making you wonder where the last five minutes of the film went. It’s an intrusive airbag to a delightfully uncivilised car-crash of a meeting, but that momentary feeling of emptiness subsides pretty quickly.

A.V. Club (USA)

press

Polanski wants to rub our collective noses in the ugliest elements of humanity. Yet by the time everyone in Carnage has revealed themselves, we’re left not with flawed human beings, but with monsters of banality whose company represents a brutal form of punishment in itself.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)

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This is not a particularly memorable film, but Polanski brings a great deal of skill to its staging, and it looks as if the actors enjoy themselves.

Empire (UK)

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A quartet of pitch-perfect performances from a cast uniformly at its career best, together with a director on shockingly mischievous top form, this is a shot of pure, exhilarating cinematic malice.

Guardian (UK)

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The tensions are satisfyingly vicious and unpleasant – mostly while still unspoken.

Hollywood Reporter

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Snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old... delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece.

Los Angeles Times

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Not only is Polanski very much in his comfort zone with this material, he also has cast it impressively, staying away from any of the actors who played the parts in either its London or New York productions...

New York Times

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“Carnage,” in any case, should not really be a movie. It should be a parlor game.

Total Film (UK)

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A four-way of furious awkwardness played with consummate skill. But, given the talents involved, couldn’t we expect something just a little more substantial?

Variety (USA)

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The real battle in Roman Polanski's brisk, fitfully amusing adaptation is a more formal clash between stage minimalism and screen naturalism, as this acid-drenched four-hander never shakes off a mannered, hermetic feel that consistently betrays its theatrical origins.