ⓘ Carnage (2011 film)
Carnage is a 2011 black comedy-drama film directed by Roman Polanski, based on the Tony Award-winning play Le Dieu du carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza. The screenplay is by Reza and Polanski. The film is an international co-production of France, Germany, Poland, and Spain, Portugal, Paraguay. It stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly. In the film, presented in a classic case of much ado about nothing, two sets of parents try to resolve a situation in a civilised manner. But, the actual matter aside, it is their own idiosyncrasies that rise to the surface.
Carnage premiered at the 2011 Venice International Film Festival on 1 September 2011, where it competed for the Golden Lion. It was theatrically released on 18 November 2011. The film received positive reviews with critics drawing major acclaim towards the performances of Foster and Winslet and Polanskis direction. At the 69th Golden Globe Awards, Foster and Winslet received nominations for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. It is currently Polanskis last film to be shot in English.
When two grade-school boys get into a fight in the park that results in one boy, Zachary Cowan, hitting the other, Ethan Longstreet, in the face with a stick, their parents meet in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the matter. Zacharys parents, Alan Christoph Waltz and Nancy Cowan Kate Winslet, visit the home of Michael John C. Reilly and Penelope Longstreet Jodie Foster, Ethans parents. Their meeting is initially intended to be short, but due to various circumstances, the conversation continues to draw out. In fact, Alan and Nancy begin to leave the apartment on two occasions, but are drawn back in to further discussion.
At first, the couples are friendly to each other, but their respective comments start to hurt feelings, making everyone argue with one another. Apart from fighting amongst themselves, the couples blame each other about who is responsible for the fight between their sons. Nancy calls the Longstreets "superficially fair-minded" and Penelope and Michael complain about Alans arrogant and dull attitude. Everyone also gets irritated with Alan when he accepts endless business phone calls on his BlackBerry, interrupting the discussion, and showing he has more interest in his business problems than the matter at hand. Michael also receives many phone calls from his ailing mother, to his frustration.
Nancy accuses Michael of being a murderer because he, annoyed by the constant noise it made during the night, had earlier turned his daughter Courtneys pet hamster loose in the street. Penelope becomes emotional about the hamster and with everyone arguing with each other. Other issues include a risky drug Alan is working to defend and Michaels mother has been prescribed, and the question of idealism and responsibility that is part of Penelopes current work.
Michael offers everyone a glass of fine scotch. Penelope claims she doesnt "get drunk" and Nancy drinks way too many and finally stops Alans phone calls by dropping his cellphone in Penelopes flower vase full of tulips and water. Penelope and Nancy both laugh uproariously while Michael and Alan try to blow-dry the BlackBerry.
The conversation continues to decay into personal attacks and opinionated statements and, eventually, epithets are uttered. Penelope is ranting, calling Nancys son a snitch, and Nancys true colors are revealed when she destroys the tulips and drunkenly and vulgarly states she is glad that her son beat up Penelopes and Michaels son. The couples realize the conversation is going nowhere. Alans BlackBerry, lying on the coffee table, vibrates, and all four stare at it.
The film cuts to the hamster, alive and well in the park, where Ethan and Zachary are reconciling on their own.
- Elvis Polanski as Zachary Cowan
- Roman Polanski as a neighbor uncredited cameo
- John C. Reilly as Michael Longstreet
- Eliot Berger as Ethan Longstreet
- Jodie Foster as Penelope Longstreet
- Christoph Waltz as Alan Cowan
- Kate Winslet as Nancy Cowan
Although set in Brooklyn, New York, the film was shot in Paris, because of Polanskis fugitive status. The opening and closing scenes, ostensibly filmed in Brooklyn Bridge Park, were shot in France against a green screen. Polanskis son Elvis, seen only in long shots in the opening and closing scenes, portrays the Cowans son. Actress Julie Adams famous for Creature from the Black Lagoon voices Alan Cowans secretary on the phone, and was a dialect coach for Waltz.
The apartment, in which almost the whole film takes place, was designed in a sound studio on the outskirts of Paris. Production designer Dean Tavoularis placed a priority on making the set look authentically American, having numerous products and appliances shipped from the US, and renting American ironmongery for the doors.
The film premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. The film was released in the United States on 16 December 2011 by Sony Pictures Classics.
5.1. Reception Critical response
Carnage received generally positive reviews from critics. It holds a 71% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which notes that "it isnt as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanskis smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster." On Metacritic, which uses an average of the critics reviews, the film holds a 61/100, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".
John Anderson of Newsday compared the film to Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and said: "The astonishing Waltz steals the picture, possibly because hes the one with a rational perspective despite his telephonic obsessiveness. He sees the whole exercise as pointless. Ultimately, so do we." Giuseppe Sedia of the Krakow Post remarked that the descent of four adults to a thuggish level has been featured as well in Polanskis short film Rozbijemy zabawe. He added that "it is interesting to speculate on what Hitchcock might have made of Rezas oeuvre".
5.2. Reception Box office
Shot on a budget of $25 million, Carnage grossed $2.5 million at the U.S. box office after twenty weeks in theaters, with another $25 million in foreign countries, for a worldwide gross of $27.603.069.
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy - Jodie Foster nominee Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy - Kate Winslet nominee
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture - Kate Winslet nominee Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture - Christoph Waltz nominee
European Film Awards Best Actress - Kate Winslet nominee Best Screenwriter - Roman Polanski and Yasmina Reza nominee
Goya Awards Best European Film - Roman Polanski nominee
Cesar Award Best Writing – Adaptation - Roman Polanski and Yasmina Reza nominee
Cinema Writers of Spain Best Adapted Screenplay - Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza nominee
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Ensemble Cast - Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Performance - Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly nominee
68th Venice International Film Festival Nominated - Golden Lion Won - Little Golden Lion