Roman Polanski's Carnage is one of the best films I've seen this year so far. It's short, feisty, to the point, and boasts four outstanding performances from some of the best actors in the business. It should therefore come as no surprise that I think Carnage was yet another ridiculous snub at this year's Oscars. Hit the jump for my review.
Based on the play Le Dieu De Carnage (The God of Carnage) by Yasmina Reza, the film is based on the simplest of premises: two well-to-do Brooklyn couples have a cordial discussion after a school yard incident between their young sons. It starts out just that way - cordial, but soon degenerates into utter chaos. Their civil veneer peels away slowly at first, quickens once they hit the Scotch, and eventually they are behaving like a bunch of wondrous maniacs. The real issue at hand is completely lost on them, and whether it be random bouts of nausea, poor cellphone etiquette or a fiery dispute about a hamster's rights, they will be fighting about it.
Now, a script a simple as this one would not work as a film without superb performances to back it up. In this case, we have John C Reilly and Jodie Foster as the Longstreets, and Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet as the Cowans. With a running time of only 80 minutes, and a brilliant screenplay, this quartet of actors entertains from start to finish. Add to that the competence of Roman Polanski and a score by Alexandre Desplat, and you have a fine piece of entertainment on your hands. I find it really hard to tell which of the four actors did the best job. They were all marvellous, but the females did get the meatier parts, and I must say Jodie Foster was a terrier! An amazing, aggressive, sinewy terrier.
The film is very much Brooklyn-set, with almost the entire thing taking place in the Longstreets' apartment. However, because Roman Polanski was naughty back in the 70s, it needed to be filmed in Paris. Whatever he did back then, he knows what he is doing when it comes to directing. It comes as no surprise that he inspired some of my favourite directors, including Darren Aronofsky, the Coen Brothers and Park Chan-Wook.
Why it was so blatantly ignored by the Academy is beyond me. There are few things more entertaining than watching the snobbish veil being pierced by clashing egos and copious alcohol consumption, and when this film hits South African theatres on the 23rd of March, be sure to go see it.