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Roman Polanski’s Carnage is sheer delight

Roman Polanski’s Carnage is topping the Lido charts with its magnificent ensemble cast of Christopher Waltz, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly and terrific script played out in real time, reports Gautaman Bhaskaran.

hollywood Updated: Sep 02, 2011 19:54 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Hindustan Times

The Venice International Film Festival just into its third day has already thrown up some tantalising fare.

Roman Polanski’s Carnage is topping the Lido charts with its magnificent ensemble cast of Christopher Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Water for the Elephants), Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly (We Need to Talk about Kevin) and terrific script played out in real time.

Gautaman Bhaskaran
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Polanski, who still cannot travel to the US because of a sex abuse case hanging over him, cockily sets his movie in New York. The opening shot, a long one, shows us two boys fighting that ends up with one of them hurting the other.

Their parents Penelope (Foster) and Michael Longstreet (Reilly) as well as Nancy (Winslet) and Alan Cowen (Waltz) meet a little later in a New York apartment to discuss and put aside the incident, which is really nothing more than a boys’ squabble.

Adapted from Yasmina Reza’s immensely popular play, The God of Carnage that was staged to full houses in New York, London and Paris, the film co-written by Polanski is as engaging as it is provoking, though the final part appears a bit of drag. Although it is an out-and-out chamber piece set in a classy New York apartment and resembles a theatrical production, it is nonetheless a fine piece of cinema that is bound to attract Academy voters in the coming Oscar season.

Wonderful characterisations with Alan as a prudish upper crust lawyer, who is forever on his mobile phone, and Penelope as an uptight art lover and author propel Carnage into quite another realm. A seemingly calm Nancy (an investment broker by profession, who is always guilty of having neglected her children) soon losses control of herself as the conversation among the four slip from the pretentious civil to biting sarcasm. She vomits and that too on Penelope’s precious collection of art books, setting off reels of drama.

Even this histrionic turn-of-events does not stop by what now has got into a bitter argument about child care and cruelty to birds. More coffee follows and the visiting couple (Alan and Nancy) somehow never seem to drag themselves out of Longstreet’s flat. When coffee is replaced by alcohol, tongues can no longer be reined in, and anger pours out not only against the “guilty” child and his parents, but also against each other. The wives accuse the husbands, the husbands the wives -- and viciousness creeps in.

Carnage, though, ends with disarming simplicity, telling adults what fools they really are.

But will Carnage find an India distributor?

First Published: Sep 02, 2011 19:46 IST