Directed by Roman Polanski
Runtime 80min. - Rated R (language)
2.5 Stars (out of 4)
Roman Polanski is one of the great directors of our time. Even the best have missteps though."Carnage" is one of his missteps.
It's an admirable film. It's constructed in a way that makes its stage-play origins known, much like the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "The Sunset Limited". The entirety of the film takes place inside of one apartment. The only exception to this is the opening scene and the closing, which weren't necessary to the plot anyway.
The story is about two couples trying to reach a responsible and civil agreement regarding a mishap between their sons. One hit the other with a stick, knocking out a couple of teeth in the process.
To describe the plot in detail would be giving it away entirely. The whole film is just one long conversation, or more accurately a heated debate. The debates cover a vast range of topics and as those topics change, so do the loyalties. Two-person teams are constantly being formed and dismantled. Sometimes its couple versus couple but positions shift to men versus women depending on the subject.
There's really nothing resolved by the end of the film, which leaves our characters in one big nihilistic circle-jerk. Despite the lack of substance, I did find some parts genuinely funny. The funniest scene involves Kate Winslet projectile vomiting, which isn't saying much. I actually think its Christoph Waltz's reaction that makes the puke scene so funny.
There is one man that could have taken this film from mediocrity to greatness. His name is Woody Allen. This material feels like it was written specifically for Woody Allen. His greatest films were successful based mostly on their dialogue. With 4 talented actors covering the same points with Allen's signature style, this would have been a truly great film. You wouldn't have even needed him to direct, just pay him a couple million to polish the script. Polanski is a great technical director, but his style is a bit too rigid for this material. You really need someone with amazing wit to keep a purely conversational film interesting. Woody Allen fits that bill perfectly. I realize this is all a moot point since the film is already made, but the potential of the script forces me to share my Allen hypothesis anyway.
There's no reason to avoid "Carnage", but there is no reason to seek it out either.