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Carnage: Movie Review

By's Darren Bevan

Published: 12:06PM Wednesday April 18, 2012


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

Director: Roman Polanski

It's a situation many a parent will recognise.

Parents forced to apologise to other parents for something their kids have done. And that's exactly what happens with Carnage.

Reilly and Foster are Michael and Penelope, whose son has been hit in the mouth by another boy using a stick; that boy's parents Alan and Nancy (Winlset and Waltz) head to their apartment to try and make amends and in a world of political correctness discuss what went wrong.

But what should be a simple meeting and something that results in a brief resolution, ends up being long drawn out and sees several unexpected tensions rise to the fore.

Based on a play, Carnage has a distinctly stagey feel with the one setting and a small troupe of actors.

That's also where some of the constraints of the play comes in - scenes that would end naturally have to be drawn out and extended to serve the medium. So, when Alan and Nancy try to leave the apartment, Michael and Penelope worry they've not been great hosts urging them to return to the apartment for coffee. The result is some of the scenes feel a little strained but it's in keeping with the tone of the film and how the meeting ends up feeling like it's on a knife edge. It's important to remember in crossing over a play like this that there are different dynamics at play from the live environment which don't necessarily translate to the smaller screen - you get a vibe from people on the stage in a live environment and that doesn't always come across in the celluloid version of Carnage.

Thankfully, a talented cast turn in some great performances and give you a feeling of reality as they breathe life into this take on class, manners and PC madness.

Sure, it's a comedy of recognition and manners as the civil tone disappears into something a little more vicious and maybe there'll be more of us in each character than we'd happily admit, but Carnage is smartly directed and watchable thanks to a high flying quartet - even if it does occasionally suffer from the constraints of the setting of its source material.

Rating: 6/10