Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carnage (Rhoades)

“Carnage” Depicts
End of Civility

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Think of it as a grown-up version of “Breakfast Club” gone awry. Two sets of parents come together (kinda like detention hall) to discuss their children who have been fighting. Their time together in this small apartment is revealing – drawing out the fears, prejudices, and pent-up anger of both families.
“Carnage” – currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – is a new film by bad boy Roman Polanski.
Himself in detention (recently under house arrest for his 1977 sex with a minor), Polanski keeps cranking them out. “The Ghost Writer” was a stylish mystery. “The Pianist” was an award-winner. “Chinatown” remains widely quoted. “Rosemary’s Baby has become a horror classic. “Knife in the Water” is studied in film schools.
Three of Polanski’s films – “Repulsion,” “Rosemary's Baby,” and “The Tenant” are known as his Apartment Trilogy. Given the cramped confines of the stagy Brooklyn apartment in “Carnage,” we may as well start calling it the Apartment Quartet.
“Carnage” may not go down as a classic, but it’s hypnotically watchable. Oscar-winners Jody Foster and Kate Winslet are the two warring mothers. John C. Riley and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz are the angry dads. Eliot Berger and Elvis Polanski (yes, the director’s son) are the boys whose playground contretemps has caused this conference.
Does it matter whether one of the boys was “armed with a stick” or merely “carrying a stick”? Not really. This story is about the breakdown of civility, not fighting boys.
"Why are we still here?" becomes the movie’s battle cry as politeness melts like butter on a hot stove. Some audience members felt the same way.
“Carnage” is described as a black comedy. But it’s more biting than funny. Nevertheless, you’ll laugh as social mores get thrown out the window, particularly in the last ten minutes of this truncated 80-minute film.
Based on a 2006 stage play “God of Carnage” by Yasmine Reza, the film is talky. In a good way. Four talented actors going at it in a word-for-word battle. Pure theater.
No, not “Breakfast Club.” More like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
 [from Solares Hill]

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