Within the four walls of a Brooklyn apartment, writer and director Roman Polanski delivers humour, wit, family outbursts and most of all, carnage as two groups of parents meet up on an afternoon to discuss a fight that broke out between their two young children that involved a stick and resulted in one having to have his teeth repaired. The plan is simple; a quick visit between wealthy couple Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz and suburban parents Jodie Foster and John C. Riley to address the issue and come out with a plan of action to settle there children’s feud. If only the parents didn’t act like their children.
Apart from the opening and closing titles, which features the parents two eleven year old boys, the rest of ‘Carnage’ takes place in Penelope and Michael’s (Foster & Riley) apartment. Clearly from Polanski’s writing and direction, the apartment isn’t supposed to represent any normal apartment; it’s almost like watching a lion’s cage. No matter how hard they try to leave, snobby Nancy and Alan (Winslet and Waltz) are sucked back into vicious face to face confrontations and brawling with their hosts. This is done fantastically by director Polanski who uses Alfred Hitchcock’s famous technique of placing the audience as a voyeur; when watching, you feel like you’re in the apartment as a fifth party.
In the beginning the four parents seem humble to one another, with Riley expressing how his wife made him buy tulips to make them seem modest and polite, but the real comedy kicks in when Nancy ends up being sick all over the living room table after eating some of Penelope’s homemade pie. From here on in, it’s clear this isn’t going to be a quick chat to sort out problems, and when alcohol is thrown into the mix, each parent can’t hold back there opinions on how they feel about each other.
A film such as ‘Carnage’ relies heavily on it’s cast; it’s the cast that carries a film set in one building and the cast certainly doesn’t disappoint. Vicar-like father John C.Riley and stuck-up business mum Kate Winslet shine in the film but the two dazzling performances come from Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz who have the best lines of dialogue as well as the funniest action on screen. From Jodie Foster’s violent outburst at her husband to Christoph Waltz’s masculinity being shattered when his wife drops his phone in a water-filled vase, the pair stand-out from the small crowd as being the real comedy shining stars of the film.
‘Carnage’ is a character based comedy setting new heights for the genre which, over the past few years, has been a bit of a wash-out. Don’t let the fact that the film is set in one apartment put you off; great comedy comes in very many different forms. It is a well written comedy, with wonderful direction and a stella cast that should earn the recognition it deserves.