Polanski’s “Carnage”: My Review

I heartily disliked Yasmina Reza‘s stage play “God of Carnage,” feeling that many much better playwrights — Edward Albee, among them — had given stronger voice to the theme of the beast beneath the beauty, the barbarism beneath civilization. So I was hoping that Roman Polanski’s film version, which I saw at a New York Film Festival screening (it opens the fest this Friday), would be more to my liking. It was, but only marginally. This story of two couples (Jodie Foster/John C. Reilly vs. Kate Winslet/Christoph Waltz) meeting at the former’s Brooklyn apartment to discuss a spat between their sons has the virtue of some good acting: Waltz is droll, and Foster, whom I love (even when she’s less than wonderful), gives an amusingly pinched performance. But Reza’s text — she wrote the screenplay with Polanski — remains full of awkward state-the-theme dialogue. And the movie’s claustrophobia is not nearly as skilled and suspenseful as it is in much earlier Polanski work such as “The Tenant.”

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