11 September 2012

Movies: Carnage

Carnage (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1692486/


In the opening sequence we see, from a distance, a group of kids at a park. Apparently some words are exchanged, a little bit of shoving between two boys, and as the boy carrying a stick walks off the other comes after him, only to be smacked across the face with the stick. The rest of the kids back off.
That just sets us up for what follows. Alan and Nancy Cowan, parents of stick wielder Zack, are at the apartment of Michael and Penelope Longstreet, parents of stick-eater Ethan. Together they composed a statement for the insurance companies* about the incident. Alan asks for a word change, Penelope makes the correction. Everyone seems on the same page, but some words said as the Cowans start leaving the apartment bring on a conversation that brings them back in to the Longstreet apartment.

Stars Christoph Waltz as Alan, Kate Winslet as Nancy, John C. Reilly as Michael and Jodie Foster as Penelope.  Waltz was Col. Hans Landa in "Inglourious Basterds", so of course I couldn't help but recall that great scene ending in him yelling "Au revoir, Shosanna!" as she ran across the field.  Everyone who's seen "Titanic" remembers Winslet. One would have to have lived under a rock to not know who Foster is. When I saw that Reilly was the fourth castmember I thought, "odd casting him with them." But as the film unfolds I realize he was perfect casting for that character. All four did great in their roles.

This film is adapted from a stage play, and it shows. Almost the whole film takes place in the apartment between the two sets of parents. The only things that happen outside that apartment, the brief park scenes involving the two boys, bookend the apartment conversation.  They set the events in motion, then show the resolution and, actually, give contrast to the resolution achieved by the parents.

Now, a bit early on in the film as the Cowans are impatiently trying to leave the apartment and close the conversation, I felt their impatience. I was impatient for them to leave too, knowing if they did the film would be over in under half an hour. I don't know if their projected impatience rubbed off on me or what. But just as they stuck it out, so did I. I can understand some viewers consider the film to be boring, but one sort of has to be in the mindset to sit and watch a one room stage play taking place on film.
Technically no complaints. Despite my initial boredom it either actually picks up or I just got used to its pace. Probably a bit of both. And at about an hour and fifteen minutes or so it isn't a long film.
And direction? Directed by Roman Polanski. He may be scum, but he is a good director. I can't think of a film he's directed that I haven't liked. Then again I've only seen maybe six of 'em.

Overall, I liked the film. I found the dialog, the shifting allegiances and, basically, how everything plays out to be amusing and enjoyable. No details brought to our attention are wasted, everything pointed out gets used (Chekov's gun principle, though no gunfire takes place). But, as I mentioned, you sort of have to be in the right mindset. If you don't enjoy bottled up in one room dialogfests I dunno if this film would change your position.

As for re-watchability -- heck if I know if I'd watch it again. I guess I'll find out someday when I'm randomly checking out what's on. Heck, I randomly came across "30 Minutes or Less" the other day and watched it again. Just 'cause.

* Note: I'm actually not sure if the letter was for their insurance companies or not. I don't actually remember because I wasn't paying close enough attention to catch that detail. I made an assumption. Heck it could have been for the kids's school or something. Whatever- the letter is actually inconsequential except as fodder for the discussions that follow, much like the hamster.

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