You know those arguments you get into – a bad breakup, or maybe finally telling off the worst roommate ever – that just never end? You think you’re done and the air is cleared, but then one side has to get in one more earnest and honest point, or maybe a subtle cheap shot, and here we go again.
That’s pretty much what “Carnage” is all about. It’s about as enlightening and about as much fun.
It’s directed by Roman Polanski, and the strong cast – Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly as one couple and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz as the other – tells this story in essentially one very long scene. The couple’s two sons have had a violent encounter in a park, and the adults meet to straighten things out.
Well, no, that would be fairly simple. They meet to set the parameters for the boys – one badly hurt, one apparently heedless about the effects of his actions – to work things out. Let the negotiations begin, and every word is up for debate and a “what do you mean by that.”
All of the adults are good people, of course, trying to spout and perhaps believe the right platitudes. But then some of their own less-than-perfect actions and glimpses of their real attitudes begin to leak out. The boor cannot keep from being a boor for long. The mom filled with rage can’t keep a lid on it. The dad who really doesn’t buy into all this conciliation let’s it all hang out. That means a lot more talk, of course.
As I say, it’s a great cast. Foster is disturbingly intense, Reilly is better known for comedies but is effective in dramatic roles, and Waltz keeps doing well in everything he pops up in. And Kate Winslet – let’s just say I’m a fan. There’s a reason she’s won those 217 Oscars. But this ends up being a little less than what one might hope for.