Roman Polanski directs 79 minutes of uncomfortable dialogue in this adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s stage play God of Carnage (they collaborated on the screenplay). A New York City-based playground brawl set to a bouncy, almost whimsical score serves as the introduction to a war of words between the parents of the two principal young fighters. The microcosm of a setting is a tidy apartment, the characters are archetypes of the modern parent if not the modern American. Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) is an everyman in the housewares trade, his wife Penelope (Jodie Foster) is a fussy art lover with a penchant for passive-aggressive slights. Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) is a high-powered attorney always glued to his cell phone, his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) is a poised, well-to-do investment broker. The couples discuss accountability, remorse, and hamsters. Alan and Nancy attempt to depart multiple times, but are consistently pulled back in. Allegiances shift alongside a constantly changing balance of power as the film veers towards existentialism in its brief overview of gender roles, politics, taste…it’s all rather exhausting. Carnage is a thinking man’s comedy (yes, it’s a comedy), but even the deepest thinkers may fail to react to the subtle silliness of it all.
Carnage opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.