Film Review: Carnage [dir. Roman Polanski; 2011]

Polanski’s silver screen version of Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed play is so very stagey, one wonders if the director was actually trying, for some reason unknown to the rest of us, to emphasise its non-cinematic tone and texture. In baldly theatrical fashion, two sets of parents meet to discuss a fight between their children. Cue: lots of trendy, psychobabble-inflected conversations about the law of the jungle versus the law of civilised society. A mobile phone is flung into a vase. Tulips are thrown about the room. Kate Winslet vomits on some art books. Various other hystrionics follow. On stage, the set up probably worked quite well. At the cinema, the contrivances are frequently painful. Having said all that, it would be unfair not to mention that Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz turn in a couple of well-judged, suitably filmic performances and that some aspects of the characters’ development are amusing to watch.

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