Lord of the Flies, for grown ups, in Roman Polanski’s Carnage.
Yasmina Reza’s play, God of Carnage, toys with the restraints of theatre. Two couples politely discussing what to do about their fighting sons, descend into social barbarianism, without ever leaving the confines of an apartment. The close-quarters of the proceedings lend themselves perfectly to Polanski’s directorial style. Claustrophobia has been a constant presence in his movies, and his adaptation of Reza’s play – Carnage, retains it in aplomb. There are occasions where you’ll be watching through twitching fingers at the levels of tension that arise from an initially relaxed conversation.
With a cast of only four, Carnage relies on solid, meaty performances. It’s fortunate then, that Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly all come at the script with gusto, as, due to the incredibly limited environment the film takes place in, the acting is the only thing for the audience to really sink their teeth into. However don’t let the unusually minimal premise fool you into thinking this isn’t a film with depth. There are many layers to the chaos that arises between the couples. Alliances and chasms shift between the individuals as they rally round common ground. Genders, political leanings, classes and child-rearing techniques all become battlegrounds as each character increasingly fights harder and harder to hold their ground.
While the faithfulness the film pays to its source material may deter some viewers, the pitch black comedy and terrific performances should win it even more. Vomit, alcohol and violent children has never felt so sophisticated.
Carnage is released in UK cinemas 3rd February.
Text: Joe Iley