Roman Polanski has taken a lot of flack from the media in the past few years, but if there is one thing that I’m sure of, it’s that he knows exactly how to make very, very good films. Taken from the Tony award winning Broadway play by Yasmina Reza, The God Of Carnage, Polanski’s Carnage is in my opinion, the best black comedy of 2011.
The film, which takes place in the confines of an apartment and a hallway, provides us with an insight into a world of modern political correctness, and highlights just how softened the world is these days. Carnage provides a nice twist of comedy and drama, in a story that centres around a cordial meeting between two couples, the Longstreets and the Cowans, who meet after the sons have been involved in a fight.
When you are dealing with three Oscar winners and another nominee, you tend to expect the best, and that’s exactly what we get here. As the film begins we are introduced to a nice clash of characters between the two couples, who share somewhat different ideas. This clash is produced perfectly by Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, who are very well cast as four equally interesting and at times, irritating characters.
One of the many beauties of Carnage lies in its setting and extremely confined space. Placing four people in one room for the majority of film requires impeccable dialogue and story to keep the audience entertained. Luckily, this film has both of those components. Though the topic keeps running in circles with a verbal tennis match between the four characters, you are instantly drawn into the conversation and are able to develop your own opinions on what the characters are arguing over.
The film shows an interesting dynamic between the two males (John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz), who project polar opposite characters that are pretty much on the same page. The dominant alpha male, yet distant from family, stance taken by Alan (Waltz), perfectly juxtaposes the humble, family orientated local business man in Michael (Reilly), and it makes for some interesting conversation.
Equally interesting are Winslet and Foster’s characters, who really can’t help but continue to clash throughout the film. Penelope, played by Foster, is a very defensive mother who in her mind, is standing up for the rights of her child. Winslet’s character Nancy, clearly finds her over the top behaviour to be incongruous, as the situation is blown out of the water.
As the arguments rage on we watch the carnage unfold. When liquor is added to the equation, we watch the film evolve from fantastic witty and ironic humor, to laugh out loud hilarious, as these four characters are all individually drawn to their wits end.
When Polanski’s name comes up in conversation, films like The Pianist, The Ghost Writer, Rosmary’s Baby, and even the cult film The Ninth Gate soon follow. So to see Polanski’s name at the head of a black comedy about political correctness and the modern follies of society seemed rather foreign to me. It seemed suited to someone more like Steven Soderbergh.
However, after seeing this fine piece of work, it makes sense to me why any director would jump at the opportunity to direct this. The film is passionate, interesting, incredibly well written and intriguing, which are all elements of any Roman Polanski film.
The most interesting part for me was the fact that this meeting was happening at all. Gone are the days of boys will be boys. The film deals with exactly what society finds acceptable, how political correctness has gotten way out of hand and just how much times have changed.
Carnage for me, was a perfect illustration of just exactly what is wrong with the world these days. The impeccable acting by this fabulous cast and Polanski’s crystal clear direction make Carnage a wonderful experience that will hopefully make people stop and question just how censored society really is.