Polanski strikes again. From the trailers I hadn’t expected much from Carnage. The disjointed one-liners lacked the context and the build-up necessary to truly sell the film. But Carnage turned out to be one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time.
The script is based on God of Carnage, or Le Dieu du carnage, by Yasmina Reza, who co-wrote the screenplay with Polanski. The play won the Tony award in 2009.
I’ll try not to spoil anything, but suffice to say nearly every character eventually goes at it with every other. The four characters are drawn from a spectrum of personality types, with Jodie Foster on one side and Christoph Waltz her polar opposite. The other two, Foster’s husband John C. Reilly and Waltz’s wife Kate Winslet are more centered, and alike at the play’s opening. The civil discourse between the two sets of parents breaks down and devolves gradually toward … carnage. In the end the film seems to reject all extremes and to point to some compromise somewhere in the middle.
Say what you will about Roman Polanski, but he can take one apartment and four actors and have you on the edge of your seat and laughing out loud, and not worried about the confined production space. He’s truly a remarkable director with a body of work that is among the top directors of all time.