PLOT: Two sets of parents (Jodie Foster & John C. Reilly, Christophe Waltz & Kate Winslet) meet to discuss a school-yard fight involving their two sons. What starts off as a cordial meeting soon devolves into a drunken, childish shouting match- proving that for all their sophistication, the parents are just as childish as their children.
REVIEW: CARNAGE is my first exposure to Yasmina Rezas play GOD OF CARNAGE. Based on all the buzz its been getting, I was expecting a probing, insightful piece of drama that would justify the comparisons its been receiving to the great WHOS AFRAID OF VIRGINAL WOLFE. Yeah, right.
CARNAGE is exactly what my plot description makes it sound like- one long, not-so-interesting conversation between two boring couples. Oh, Im sure director Roman Polanski, and playwright Reza expect us to find them fascinating, but I didnt find them to be in the slightest. Reilly and Foster, I suppose, represent Rezas idea of the common-folk, meaning dad sells plumbing supplies that somehow allows him to own a sprawling Manhattan apartment and collect twenty-year-old scotch, while mom stays home writing a book on Darfur. Ya know- just like all of us- right?
Waltz and Winslet represent the so-called sophisticates, with Waltz constantly on his blackberry, and Winslet spending a good chunk of the 75-minute running time puking.
As for the conversation, it tries to draw parallels between the schoolyard brawl and mans general predilection for violence. I suppose theres a point to be made somewhere, but for me Rezas script just hit all the wrong notes. Im also somewhat offended by the fact that a reported $25 million was spent shooting something that takes place in a single setting- as the film should have really cost a fifth of that (I assume the budget went towards star salaries).
The cast is full of blue-chip actors, all of whom I consider myself of fan of- but here they just come off as phony. This is particularly true of Jodie Foster, whos normally one of my favourite actors, but is just wrong here. As her spouse, Reilly fares a bit better, but I couldnt help but wish they had kept James Gandolfini from the original Broadway cast. Winslet is ok, I suppose in her role, but again- she felt phony. Waltz acquits himself well as her husband, and of the cast, is the only one that really feels right in their role.
Suffice to say, CARNAGE really didnt work for me, but considering the raves the play (as well as the film) have received from other critics, perhaps its just a personal thing. If I had the chance to see it with the original, acclaimed Broadway cast, I might have felt differently- but for me this is one of the big fails of the Oscar season. Hopefully people wont be blinded by the fact that its Roman Polanski (meaning, of course, that were supposed to like it even if its not good), and reward it with a bunch of award nominations it doesnt deserve.
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...
|Extra Tidbit:||My top 5 Polanski's: CHINATOWN, ROSEMARY'S BABY, MACBETH, FRANTIC, THE PIANIST. Runner-up: THE GHOST WRITER.|