"Carnage" Film Review
If you liked Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Mike Nichols you'll probably enjoy Roman Polanski's Carnage although Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz don't quite match up to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sandy Dennis and George Segal. Carnage is more of a comedy than Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf which, if memory serves, didn't offer a lot of laughs.
Penelope Longstreet--a "do gooder" who writes about the starving people in Africa.............Jodie Foster
Michael Longstreet--household furnishings salesman......................................John C. Reilly
Nancy "Doodles" Cowan--successful investment broker............................................Kate Winslet
Alan Cowan--lawyer who defends crooked drug companies.........................Christopher Waltz
Carnage is based on a French play by Yasmina Reza. It's set in the Longstreet's New York City apartment where four parents are gathered to discuss an in incident in which a playground dispute between Cowan's and Longstreet's young sons ended in a serious injury to the Longstreet's child who was hit in the face with a stick of of wood by the Cowan's son. Penelope Longstreet proposed the meeting to discuss and amicably resolve the issue of what to do about the incident. The two husbands agreed, reluctantly, to the meeting.
The Longstreets and the Cowans are caricatures of American archetypes--the corporate lawyer helping a greedy drug company avoid the consequences from hiding the serious side effects of a drug; the ambitious, attractive career woman; the bleeding heart liberal woman and her husband, an insensitive, cigar smoking, hard drinking salesman. The movie covers only the hour-and-a-half meeting in the Longstreet's apartment which begins civilly but progressively degenerates into "carnage" among all the participants. Alan Cowan is interrupted at least 20 times by crisis calls on his Blackberry from his Big Pharma client about what to do about its failure to disclose serious side effects from one of its drugs. His advice boils down to "don't admit anything," and "hold the public statements" until after the annual stockholder's meeting two weeks hence. He has little or no interest in the discussion about the playground incident other than avoiding a personal injury lawsuit by the Longstreets. Penelope and Nancy are at first inclined to be polite and conciliatory as was Michael Longstreet. However, the discussion soon degenerates into verbal and physical mayhem, especially after Michael breaks out a bottle of his 18-year-old single malt Scotch. Soon, the Longstreets are fighting with the Cowans and the husbands are fighting with their wives. Jodie Foster displayed especially intense wrath at Christopher Waltz and at her husband, John C. Reilly Some in the audience found the movie hilarious but others reacted uncomfortably to the battling characters. A.O. Scott's review linked below is well worth reading.
Rated PG13 for profanity.
"Carnage" official trailer
12-15-11NYTimes--A.O. Scott Review of Carnage "Blood Sport in a High Rise"
- Roman Polanski’s ‘Carnage,’ With Jodie Foster - Review - NYTimes.com
In “Carnage,” Roman Polanski’s spry adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play, two couples show that beneath the surface of civilized behavior lurks animal impulses.