Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Runtime: 80 Minutes
Two eleven year old boys are arguing in the park. We don’t know what about, but does it matter? That’s what kids do. One of the children, Zachary, strikes the other, Ethan, across the face with a large stick. Now we have a messy situation on our hands, complete with a missing tooth and some serious dentalwork needing to be done. This incident brings the parents of the two children together to discuss treatment and punishment options.
And so begins Carnage.
Zachary’s parents, Alan and Nancy Cowan (Waltz & Winslet), visit the home of Ethan’s parents, Michael and Penelope Longstreet (Reilly & Foster), with the intention of quickly dealing with the problem. Somehow this quick visit turns into an elongated stay, and the entire movie takes place in this stationary apartment.
With this decision, much of the film’s weight is placed on the shoulders of its stars. Thankfully, this is an absolutely all-star veteran cast. Foster, Reilly, Winslet and Waltz are all terrific, and they do their part to make sure this dialogue-heavy film is not hampered by the one-shot location.
Each character has their own quirks, and they all have a certain sense of pride. When little remarks here and there are interpreted as sly insults, the discussion grows heated, and it doesn’t take long for everyone to start ragging on each other. In this regard, “Carnage” is an apt title for the film, as there are some heavy blows dealt to the egos of all involved.
Carnage is a fun, brief film that really picks up once the bottle of scotch comes out. There are moments I could have done without, such as Alan’s frequent phone calls and Nancy’s moments where she gets sick, but for the most part this is an entertaining ride with a tight script.