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Carnage

by

Jeff Nelson

Carnage isn't bad, but it isn't very good either. It's somewhere in between.

Carnage
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Books are often adapted or sometimes simply inspire filmmakers to create a movie. In Carnage's case, it's based off of a play called God of Carnage. It received a lot of praise from critics. I never saw the play, but I heard plenty about it. Once I saw the trailer, I still wasn't inspired much to see this on stage, I just wanted to see the film. This is primarily due to the cast and crew involved in the production. It isn't everyday that Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly, and Roman Polanski are all working on a film together. The cast is a recipe to be loved by critics from the start. However, I was taken by surprise to see quite a few negative reviews. I think a lot of this is because a lot of people were thinking that this would be more involved and be on a bigger scale. From the trailer alone, one can see that Carnage stays true to its roots and acts very much like a play. The entire motion picture takes place in the home of Penelope Longstreet and Michael Longstreet. I knew exactly what I was getting into when renting this, but is it worthy of all the talent that's present?

Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the evening into chaos. While Nancy Cowan and Alan Cowan are at the Longstreet residence, a lot more occurs than discussing the fight that took place between their children, Zachary Cowan and Ethan Longstreet. In fact, these two kids are never seen in the same scene as any of the parents. The discussions taking place are simply between the two pairs of parents. While Carnage starts out awkward as each person is clearly sucking up to the others in order to appear professional, things quickly take a turn for the worst. It's rather ironic because they're there to discuss the childish and immature nature of their kids', but the parents are acting even more ridiculous and foolish than their children. The first half and the final half of Carnage have completely different tones to them. The first half is absolutely aggravating and irritating. The audience can see straight through the fake positive attitudes being displayed. The most annoying character on screen is Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz). He constantly is interrupting the serious discussions taking place in order to talk on his cell phone doing things for work. After around the first thirty minutes, audiences will start to become impatient. Fortunately, this is an extraordinarily short film. Just as it starts wearing out its welcome, the final act comes along. This is what we've endured the frustrating situations for! The two women, Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet), start to completely unravel as all of their emotions flow out. The two men, Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly), are rather ambivalent towards their wives' emotions. Unfortunately, just as all of the entertaining chaos is really getting interesting, the movie's over. It feels as if the movie ends rather abruptly. The dialogue is decent, especially towards the ending. The majority of the screenplay is aggravating and the payoff doesn't feel worth it. While it's quite hilarious, especially Nancy Cowan's portions (Kate Winslet). I would have preferred if the unravelling was a bigger portion of Carnage and the fake attitudes were much less.

One of the biggest selling points of Carnage is the cast. The small, yet talented cast is Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly. These four actors are placed in a room and all hell breaks loose. This most certainly allowed the cast to unleash his or her skill as they have nothing to react to except each other. To put it simply, each performance is wonderful. However, Kate Winslet steals the show as Nancy Cowan. Jodie Foster comes in a close second as the stuck-up Penelope Longstreet. The fights that are created between the two of them are represented very well. Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly are both convincing in the roles. These four actors mastered both ends of the spectrum. In the beginning, they're calm and collected. By the end of the motion picture, they're drunk and allowing all of the character to ramble on about his or her personal problems. This is definitely the strongest aspect of Carnage. Unfortunately, great performances don't make a movie. When there are serious troubles shown through the script like they are here, the acting isn't able to make up for it. These issues are still able to shine right through. However, the performances are all top notch.

The plot works perfectly for a play, but clearly not as well for a feature film. Despite the fact that the performances are spectacular, the first half of the movie is so irritating that it'll be testing the patience of many viewers. I guarantee that a lot of audiences will already be getting aggravated within the first thirty minutes or so. Once the craziness is finally unfolding, the film comes to an abrupt ending. I would have much preferred to see more of that and less of the character pretending to be nice to act other and then trash talk about each other behind his or her back. The running time is so short that it could have easily been extended a little bit in order to provide some more of the chaos to add an even balance. Putting aside the irritating build-up, the final bit of the film is hilarious. I would almost recommend viewers to just watch the last portion of the motion picture just for the laughs. With such incredible actors involved, I would have thought that the screenplay would have been stronger. Carnage isn't bad, but it isn't very good either. It's somewhere in between.

My Rating = Three Stars

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