Movie Review: Carnage
Today, I went to watch Carnage, so I thought I might just quickly share some thoughts on the movie.

Carnage is a movie about the unavoidable truths in the depths of human nature. Following the dispute of two sets of parents whose kids got into a fight, the film restricts itself very closely to the limits of the stage, especially as the movie takes place entirely in real time, and mostly in one living room. The movie does not take a moment to cut away from the escalation of dueling sets of parents, four really pissed off people. The camera simply witnesses the stripping of niceties and social mores between four adults as objectively as possible.

It reminded me in some ways of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist play ‘Huis Clos’ (‘No Exit’ in English, ‘Geschlossene Gesellschaft’ in German). After their deaths a rich women named Estelle, lesbian intellectual postal worker Inès and journalist Garcin meet in hell, locked into the same small hotel room for all eternity. Inès lusts after beautiful Estelle, who in turn tries to seduce Garcin. But all he wants is intellectual confirmation by Inès. It is a triangle that can never work. As Sartre famously writes: “L’enfer c’est les autres” – “Hell is the others”. Along the way, we find out some things about their pasts, and why they ended up in hell: Garcin raped his wife, Estelle killed her child, Inès committed adultery and supposedly pushed her envious cousin in front of a train.
Carnage is not quite as aggressive in tone, yet it shows similar depth in character.

The movie adaptation of the eponymous stage play by Yasmina Reza serves up a miniature cast, but they are all heavies in the industry. Three of them already won Oscars – Jodie Foster (‘The Accused’ and ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’, and a nomination for ‘Taxi Driver’), Kate Winslet (‘The Reader’, plus an incredible additional five nominations), and Christoph Waltz (‘Inglorious Basterds’). John C. Reilly, the last in this quartette, was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for ‘Chicago’. And it works most of the time. The individual acting roles are well executed, and great fun to see develop. Yet, something gets lost when the protagonists interact. The timing seems off at times, and reactions don’t seem quite realistic. Which brings me to my only real point of criticism: Carnage is an attempt at transferring a stage play to the screen. And it feels like it. It’s not quite feature film, nor stage play. The viewer knows not what to think of characters that are kind of real, yet weirdly over-the-top. You simply don’t quite buy it sometimes.
Still, it is a movie worth watching. It’s good fun, and it’s great food for thought. Go see it!

Watch the trailer here: