By Katie Crocker
Adapted from Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage” Roman Polanski explores the hilarity of human behavior in “Carnage” a simple, uncomplicated plot that proves you don’t have to overproduce a story for it to be compelling.
After two boys have at it on the playground, the parents of the bullied child, Penelope Longstreet(Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) invite Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) to discuss the incident and find an amicable, mature solution. Yet as each minute passes, the feigned politeness fades, revealing the four parents true colors.
It’s tricky business to make one room interesting for two hours but Polanski pulls it off with his brilliant talent as a visual storyteller, making every awkward moment and look count along with great dialogue buildup and pauses that made the exchanges more subtle and believable for the screen.
And since the story relies so heavily on performances instead of situation, it would impossible to do this type of film without a capable and talented cast. And Winslet, Foster, Waltz and Reilly all deliver authentic performances, reacting well to each other with great comedic timing. Winslet, whose always satisfying to watch wasn’t any different this time around. She brings an easy sincerity as her character struggles to hold onto patience until she finally cracks at the end in one final outburst of emotion. Alongside her, was Christoph Waltz, whose performance was done well but also a little predictable and somewhat of a repeat performance as he launched into another long winded speech of how things truly work. And while he’s proven himself a serious talent to watch out for, I’d really like to see him try something challenging. Most convincing was Jodie Foster as the uptight, self righteous Penelope and she played the part flawlessly, with pursed lips of displeasure throughout the film. And Reilly did well beside Foster but I couldn’t help but notice that his voice boomed over the others, so much so that I wasn’t sure if maybe it was a technical problem instead of a performance flaw. (Disappointing since I love watching Reilly)
Overall, it was really refreshing to see an entertaining movie with no frills or fuss, something that didn’t drown itself in overdone plot twists, explosions or cram in some emotional meaning to try and justify the action. Polanski just found the comedy in people being people. And it worked.