Carnage review

Two couples battle it out after their respective sons get in a fight. And that’s it. It’s just one big argument between four people, almost entirely in a single room.

Film adaptations of plays rarely work well. All too often they fail to embrace the new medium and the subtleties in tone and action it enables and remain stuck to a style more suited to the stage, with exaggerated, grand gestures and booming voices. Carnage, then, based on the play The God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, who also tackles the screenplay, didn’t spark particularly high expectations, regardless of an A-list cast and widely celebrated director.

There is little doubt there would have been serious problems if it wasn’t for especially confident, talented actors but director Roman Polanski deserves the lion’s share of plaudits for producing a thoroughly engaging film (credit is, of course, due to Reza, although more for the original play than the screenplay). It remains quite theatrical, both through its confined sets and even, at times, in over-the-top performances but, containing quite farcical comedy, it is actually a good choice of source material and is still shot with a clear eye on exploiting the medium.

Effortlessly shifting between couple vs. couple and husbands vs. wives and building from sober polite conversation to outright drunken warfare, the admirably short film progresses like a fine stand-up routine, complete with suitably hilarious moments along the way.

4 out of 5

6th Feb 2012 | Official site | On IMDb