Review Roundup: CARNAGE Film


Roman Polanski's upcoming God of Carnage features John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in the movie version of Yasmina Reva's Tony-winning play. The film just debuted this summer at the Venice Film Festival (August 31- September 10) and will open the New York Film Festival on September 30. It's due to hit movie theatres in the United States on November 18, 2011.

After receiving rave reviews in London, God of Carnage opened on Broadway March 22, 2009 to unanimous praise. The Yasmina Reza comedy won the Tony Award for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play (Matthew Warchus). God of Carnage also won the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. God of Carnage reunites the creative team that staged the Tony Award-winning Best Play, Art. Designed by Mark Thompson (sets and costumes), with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker & Chris Cronin, the play has music by Gary Yershon. The production closed in 2010 with Jeff Daniels, Janet McTeer, Lucy Liu and Dylan Baker.

Justin Chang, Variety: While the four actors deliver distinctive turns, marked by body language often more pointed than the dialogue, the proceedings are somewhat dampened by the miscasting of one couple. Foster, called on to function as more of an ensemble player than usual, nails Penelope's insufferable micro-managing and liberal do-gooder impulses, but the tightly wound actress doesn't bellow with the full-blooded authority the role requires. Reilly is almost too easily cast as Michael, pointedly the shlubbiest and most blue-collar of the bunch, at times tilting the material toward a broader style of comedy than desired.

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: Onstage, the action pivots on an incident that is frequently mentioned but not seen: The injuring of one boy by another in playground fight. The film, however, opens with a striking shot of a Brooklyn waterfront park with the East River and the skyline of lower Manhattan in the background. Two boys (one of them played by the director's son Elvis) engage in combat, with one of them hitting the other with a stick, resulting in not inconsiderable injuries.

Xan Brooks, The Guardian: The acting comes at full throttle while the pacing cranks up the tension in agonising, incremental degrees. At one point this is all too much for Nancy, who proceeds to vomit copiously over the coffee table, coating Penelope's cherished Oskar Kokoschka book. It is an astonishing scene, an icebreaker like no other. And at the Venice screening, the viewers greeted it with a wild abandon, howling with delight and applauding like thunder, perhaps relieved that someone had cracked before they did themselves.

David Gritten, The Telegraph: Initially polite, their meeting lapses into prejudiced attacks and furious rows. There's vomiting and drunkenness - a vase of tulips, a mobile phone and glossy art books are among the casualties. Waltz, as the rudest man in the room, gets the best lines. It's well-acted and giddily enjoyable, if slightly less so once the characters start to analyse their descent into barbarism.

Lee Marshall, Evening Standard: Little attempt is made to disguise the fact that this is the film of a play. And the dramatic gears grind a little during certain shifts of allegiance along couple and gender lines. But making the audience feel claustrophobic is central to Carnage's method: we're penned in, unable to leave this airless apartment with its collection of liberal gewgaws from component hi-fi to African totems to real logs (presumably never used) stacked by the marble fireplace.

Oliver Lyttelton, Indiewire: It's been a while since Polanski's done an out-and-out comedy (unless you count Pierce Brosnan‘s performance in "The Ghost Writer"-oh, snap!), and the good news is that "Carnage" is very, very funny. The play brought down houses around the world, and the director and his cast hit every beat with expert timing; there are moments here that rival anything we've seen in recent years for hilarity. There's often a darkly funny undertone to Polanski's work, but this reinforces that he's got a real knack for comedy, for perhaps the first time since "Fearless Vampire Killers," and we hope he doesn't neglect that particular muscle from here on out.


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