What can I say, I just love Roman Polanski’s movies. As I keep saying, try to separate the art from the artist. His latest movie Carnage is a brilliant, funny, and highly subversive character study based on Yasmina Reza’s play “Le Dieu du Carnage”. Lately, I’ve started to appreciate these movies based on plays more and more. The scripts are just so damn intelligent and compelling. We’re going to be focusing squarely on the characters without anything to distract us. And this enables us to really dive into them and the situations and broader concepts that emerge from their exchanges.
Carnage follows the supposedly short meeting between two sets of parents after their sons got into a fight in school. The premise is excellent and ripe for further analysis. For example, I kept thinking about what would I do in such a situation. However, you should know that you don’t have to do any of that stuff. The movie Carnage is a highly entertaining comedy that constantly escalates until it reaches a satisfying, unhinged, and completely hilarious finale. And if you’re a parent with kids in school, it might hit you even harder.
On that note, I just want to add that the movie doesn’t have a traditional ending. There will be so much drama and intense arguments that you’ll feel like you need a cathartic ending to wrap things up. And while one would surely be appreciated, I also think that leaving things in this state wasn’t a huge mistake. I feel like they were going for that feeling you have when you’re overwhelmed by a series of complex human interactions questioning not just other people and our society but also yourself. The cast was simply sublime and I don’t want to single anyone out. I expected perfection and I got it.
Our sets of parents seem quite different at first. One of them is a middle-class couple, pretty much average in every way while the other one belongs to the upper class. And you can bet your pretty ass that their kid smacked the middle-class kid. So, we even have this introduction of class and class perspective introduced into the mix. The sense of tension is all too real and the first third of the movie will be quite nervy. I mean, you will feel the anxiety and all the other emotions slowly bubbling up and setting the stage for further escalation.
Featuring a running time of just 65 minutes, Carnage is one of those movies you can play anytime and be certain you’re going to finish. It is, what they call, a complete package. And a movie you can comfortably watch again in the near future and still enjoy as you did the first time. Polanski is no stranger to single-location talky movies as his much darker and mysterious A Pure Formality was released some 15 years ago. I highly recommend it along with Rope and my all-time favorite The Man from Earth.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Michael Katims, Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski
Cast: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Fun Facts: Roman Polanski is officially a fugitive for the United States government so the movie was shot in France.