Posted by Alia Haddad on December 21, 2011 at 7:26 am
I had been anxiously waiting for Roman Polanski’s latest film, Carnage, since I heard rumors of potential cast mates. When Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, and Jodie Foster were confirmed as the four leads, making up two married couples, I started to salivate at the mouth. When we broke the news of the trailer, which showed that the movie would center around these two couples trying to come to terms with and work through their respective son’s penchant for physical violence, all taking place in one apartment, I could hardly contain myself.
Yes, it’s been a long journey to opening weekend: a journey filled with excitement, hope and down-right film lust. Well, with that journey now having come to an end, I can now look back (20/20 hindsight, right?) and judge if this long, long journey was actually worth it. And let me tell you, it was (Christmas come early?!). Now, to be fair, I am probably a little biased. As a friend noted as we were leaving the theater, Roman Polanski has no real definable style. Unlike the way you can pick a Coen Brother’s movie out of any large stack of hay, Polanski’s body of work is somewhat scattered and confusing. All I’m saying is that on the scale of math equations, Repulsion does not equal Chinatown does not equal Rosemary’s Baby does not equal The Pianist definitely does not equal The Ghost Writer. All of these films have such disparate directing styles, but perhaps that’s what makes Polanski so versatile.
Anyway, back to being biased: Polanski’s latest venture, Carnage, seems to have been made specifically for me. Sounds a little self-centered? Well, let me explain. There is nothing I like more in a movie than character development. I love it. This is what I really go to the box office to see (save for sharks, aliens, and cowboys, obviously). If character-development is the name of the game, then I’m in. And what was Carnage? A 79-minute (short, right?) extreme exercise in character development– it was glorious.
Carnage, based on the Yasmina Reza play of the same name, was filmed very much like a play, not once leaving the confines of an apartment building in Brooklyn save for the opening and closing shots. And, while clocking in at just under an hour and half seems very short for any movie nowadays, it was the perfect amount of screen time for these four characters to all come into their own without seeming tiresome or tedious. It should probably go without saying, but the acting among these for Hollywood greats (and not to mention heavy Oscar bait) more than made this movie. As stated, the character development, and therefore, the script, pacing and dialogue all worked together perfectly. The laughs were subtle, but thankfully, were there, and the issues raised were pertinent. I left feeling as if I had participated in a group therapy session.
Don’t get me wrong, if you like a plot-heavy script with lots of action, than this movie is probably not for you. Skip it, and go see something like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But, if you’re in the mood to see a perfectly-executed exercise in character development, one that combines great acting, dialogue and an array of emotional responses, then you’re in luck! Carnage is out now.