Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Carnage - DVD Review

Starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.
Directed by Roman Polanski.


I imagine this is a very entertaining play to watch.  It's a variant of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, except both couples have their problems bubbling under the surface that may explode out once the alcohol gets pouring.

Foster and Reilly play one couple, she a liberal-cause writer and he a hardware store owner.  They've invited over another couple, Winslet and Waltz, she an investment broker and he a lawyer, because their boys got in a fight that resulted in one hitting the other in the face with a stick.  At first, the couples engage in the polite niceties of four adults trying to work out a problem, but Foster is the victim's mother and she keeps reaching for an apology that never quite comes.  As the day wears on, the politeness takes an edge, and eventually the happy public faces are stripped away.

It's a dark comedy about eroding manners, and while I liked it, I never forget it was based on a play.  The whole thing takes place in a claustrophobic apartment.  The four actors have a blast in their roles, and while the women having showier scenes, I thought Waltz stole the movie.  His shark-like smile and dark eyes make him predatory.  He'll be nice if he has to, but don't push his buttons.

It has a quick running time, which makes its lack of an ending more jolting.  I enjoyed it, but the studio made a mistake positioning this as a limited-release late-December Oscar-bait movie.  I would have made it a spring or fall release on at least 1000 screens.  As is, when the Oscar nominations didn't materialize, it fizzled out at $2.5 million.

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