Review: Carnage

When I was young, it was a tradition at Christmas for ITV to broadcast a version of the leading West End hit comedy of the year. As it would star various cast members of The Good Life the family would watch for maybe five minutes before turning it off in disbelief at the rubbish put on in that theatre.

The latest film from Roman Polanski starts with a sly credit sequence which catches you off guard by starting the story a little before you realise.

It could well be a little homage to the final scene of Hidden and it's a deceptively cinematic opening to a film that is entirely made up of the rubbish they put in that theatre.

It's a straight adaptation of Yasmina Reza's hit The Gods Of Carnage, four people in a single location in real time.

The cast is two equally ghastly New York middle class couples who try and settle a dispute after the child of one couple has struck the son of another with a stick.

It all begins civilly enough, but gradually the polite veneer falls away and the piece descends into a glorious slanging match.

Kate Winslet and Christophe Waltz are the parents of the aggressor child, leaving John C. Reilly paired with Jodie Foster as the parents of the victim.

Most Read

After being married to Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin, Reilly finds himself with another forbiddingly selfrighteous liberal figure.

Once it gets going Carnage lives up to its title and is often hilarious. There is though something mechanical about the way Yeza's play works its way through the options, each pair taking turn to be the combatant, each character rotating to position of main target.

The film takes a bit of time to get going and during the first third the audience seemed a little uneasy.

All apart from one man, who was roaring throughout, with that braying superior laugh of a theatregoer.

Carnage is funny, but no more than comparable pieces written for television, and it's largely safe.

You can always earn a buck getting the ghastly middle classes to laugh at middle class ghastliness.

It's laughter from a lesser art form.


Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christophe Waltz and John C. Reilly

Length: 79 mins