Friday, 6 July 2012

Carnage (2011)

Carnage is a pretty simple film. Set entirely in a New York apartment, it follows two couples who've met up to discuss a falling out between their children. As you might guess from the title, it's not exactly a productive affair. The film was adapted from the stage-play Le Dieu du carnage (The God of Carnage). To say "adapted" is a bit of a stretch though; obviously I haven't seen the play because I'm an uncultured philistine, but watching Carnage feels very much like you're moving around a stage as the production rolls on around you. The angles are very clearly chosen to display as much of the apartment, and consequently as much of the cast, as possible at once and the dialogue feels very theatrical in both the terms of what's actually said and how it's delivered.

There isn't much in terms of an actual plot, the whole film is pretty much one continuous scene from beginning to end. The real quality shines through in the subtly shifting dynamic between the four characters and the constant to-and-fro in the balance of power. Pretty much every possible alliance between characters comes up and each gives an insight into how each couple operates. John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster are entertaining to watch as everything falls apart, but Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz are enthralling as the detached, financially successful couple who are less than perfect together. Waltz follows his performance in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds and proves that his talent for playing smug, self-satisfied egomaniacs wasn't a one-off. Both give great performances, especially Winslet once the scotch is flowing, but are fantastic when bouncing off each other.

It's not exactly a traditional film, in truth it feels a lot more like a really long short film (if that makes any sense), but if you enjoy character driven dramas, snide comments and unbridled contempt, Carnage might be a pretty good fit.

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