Monday, January 16, 2012
Roman Polanski's latest film is based on the play "Le Dieu du Carnage" ("God of Carnage") written by French playwright Yasmina Reza in 2006. The play won the 2009 Tony Award as well as each member of the original cast being nominated for their performances with Marcia Gay Harden winning for her performance as Penelope. The rest of the Broadway original cast included Jeff Daniels (Alan), Hope Davis (Nancy), and James Gandolfini (Michael). The decision to re-cast was made by Roman Polanski, but the stage feel remained the same as you can easily see that the film is based on a play with the set being strictly confined to the apartment.
With the appearance of a simple story, what develops is like pealing an onion with each layer demonstrating raw humanity in a way. The story is like a roller coaster that just keeps going and going. The film begins with a distant image of young boys in a schoolyard when suddenly one strikes the other with a stick; and then we are brought into the subsequent conversation between the young boy's parents. The parents begin with a civil conversation, but devolve to taking pot shots at each other.
Similar to the all-star cast that the play enjoyed, the film stars Jodie Foster (Penelope), John C. Reilly (Michael), Kate Winslet (Nancy), and Christoph Waltz (Alan). As each parent deconstructs the children's behavior, blaming the other for the abusive outcome of the situation, the parents regress into brutal children themselves. Michael begins agreeable and eventually explodes as you watch Penelope slowly begin to have a breakdown. Each of the parents bounces from one extreme to another, adding friction between the others with every conversation, ultimately taking sides with the most unlikely of the group only to antagonize the others. It is interesting to see how alcohol and cell phones play a part in being a catalyst to the adult's regression.
With such an amazing cast to complement the brilliant play and guidance from one of the best film makers of a generation, it is no wonder that "Carnage" is a 5 Quack film. I could easily see the entire cast receiving nominations for the performances. The difficult part would be deciding if they were in a leading role or a supporting role. The film is beyond funny, and grabs you from the beginning. It should appeal to all adults with, or without, children.
PS: if you stumble across this review and you have seen the play, please provide comments as to how the two performances compared.