The Parental Rage of Brownstone Brooklyn in "Carnage"
In Carnage posh pair Alan and Nancy (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) come to the home of wholesaler Michael (John C. Reilly) and crunchy author Penelope (Jodie Foster) to discuss how to deal with the fact that the former couple's son hit the latter couple's son in the face with a stick. Artificial politesse gives way to passive aggression, which gives way to aggressive aggression. A real time, hell-is-other-people endurance test set, with the exception of two framing shots, Carnage begins with the boys' altercation, an incident that director Roman Polanski shoots from such a far remove that we cannot know what motivated it or have any sense of context. The film that follows consists of outsiders with personal motives debating blame for an incident they did not witness and, it's implied, cannot really understand. But for all its apparent analogies to Polanski's life, Carnage feels like an impersonal exercise, and its study of the rotten underbelly of "polite" social interaction is completely transparent.
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