In Brooklyn Bridge Park, eleven year old Zachary Cowan strikes his eleven year old classmate Ethan Longstreet across the face with a stick after an argument. Among the more serious of Ethan's injuries is a permanently missing tooth and the possibility of a second tooth also being lost. Their respective parents learn of the altercation through Ethan's parents questioning him about his injuries. The Longstreet parents invite the Cowan parents to their Brooklyn apartment to deal with the incident in a civilized manner. They are: Penelope Longstreet, whose idea it was to invite the Cowans, she whose priorities in life include human rights and justice; Michael Longstreet, who tries to be as accommodating as possible to retain civility in any situation; Nancy Cowan, a nervous and emotionally stressed woman; and Alan Cowan, who is married more to his work as evidenced by the attachment he has to his cell phone and taking work calls at the most inopportune times. Although the meeting starts ... Written by
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The uncomfortable first half leads to a rewarding second half....
By Maurice Jones
Roman Polanski's 'Carnage' starring Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz main seem like an unbalanced superficial casting to some for a low-key movie such as this, but what at first is expectedly unfit and useless is later realized and understood.
From the opening of the film Roman Polanski uses the same intensity of 50's-60's suspense film openings such as 'Compulsion' to distract you from what is happening behind the credits to then lead you to the purpose of the film to the then the plot. The back drop of the credits is filmed and placed in a way that looks especially 70's, which entirely gives a delightfully and brilliantly vintage opening of a treat, as something like this is unfortunately rarely seen in a dramedy as this. A starting such as this lets you know that you're in for the creative dramatically playful telling of Mr. Roman Polanski.
The first few lines of the movie give way to the two head strong characters of the movie who battle it out later on, but before then the movie centers on the societal dealing with a schoolyard attack on the son of a seemingly liberal couple; Penelope and Michael (played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) by the son of a seemingly conservative couple; Nancy and Allen (played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz). Penelope is an opinionated, passionate writer who leads the reasoning of the incident. Michael is a friendly yet choosy salesman who tries to make light of the whole situation. Nancy is a pseudo-conservative who like Michael tries to keep the whole situation without argument and Allen is a sly yet focused attorney who would rather be working then deal with the incident as long as the whole thing is dealt with fairly. The first half of the movie displays the tight-rope courtesy of the two couples dealing with this unfortunate situation in Penelope and Michael's New York apartment, as little by little the faults of each parent comes out but is especially looked over for the sake of good re pore, which makes for a realistic look out on the stubborn idiosyncrasies of parents in general. As what one would consider to be poorly written, boring, typical or an off-putting part of the film is really a clever set up of what's to come as the first half realistically exports the pointlessness and exhaustiveness of how this situation is handled. As things seep towards the second half of the film the characters become less and less censored and open to be their real selves in the confinement of Penelope and Michael's apartment which leads to the rewarding and interesting part of the film. Nancy and Michael are the soft, mending parts of their relationships but turn out to be more disturbed and Penelope and Allen are the leaders and rightfully duke it out. As the conservative couple Nancy and Allen are nothing without their accessories and as the liberal couple Penelope and Michael just want to be heard and taken seriously.
What's great technically about 'Carnage' is Roman Polanski's eye and directing as he is aware of the subtleties and exaggerations of film and why they can go hand in hand. With that Kate Winslet is great at acting guarded and then letting her guard down and Jodie Foster pushes herself to points that seem brilliantly worrying (she should probably get an Oscar nom). John C. Reilly naturally does great playing the friendly, caring Michael who as much as he is that, he's as well careless and Christoph Waltz plays his usual cocky self who has an answer to everything, which is accurate as the fierce attorney he portrays.
Also written by Roman Polanski 'Carnage' has a lot of insight biased or not about men and women and society which makes it importantly realistic and in part shows view of the accurate thoughts of Roman Polanski. If you're into or not into films about four people dealing with each other in one location, check out 'Carnage' and if not for Roman Polanski, see it for the rare useful form of the actors involved. I started out not sure whether I was going to like 'Carnage' or not but towards the end I saw the big picture and in that my only regret is, that when it ended I wanted more time with these four people.
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