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Movie reviews

Carnage is No Couples Retreat


If you missed Carnage on the big screen earlier this year, you can catch it when the movie releases on DVD March 20.  The film adaptation of Yasmina Rexa’s Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, “God of Carnage,” which earned co-stars Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet Golden Globe nominations, portrays the aftermath for the parents to two boys who get into a playground tussle in which one boy strikes the other with a stick.


The movie is talky, or rather yelly, as you’d expect from a stage play adaptation, and it’s a bit claustrophobic, taking place in real-time, all one afternoon in the apartment of the victim’s parents Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly), who host the aggressor’s parents, Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz), in an attempt to civilly resolve the matter. What begins as polite and contrite conversation over coffee and cobbler devolves into scotch-induced Whose-Afraid-of-Virginia-Wolfe lite scenario where the couples go at each other with no holds barred. 


Christoph’s big pharma attorney irks everyone as he continually takes cell phone calls to deal with a pending crisis over side effects of a drug he represents.  Winslet – before she vomits her cobbler all over Foster’s priceless art books — is indignant over a story Foster tells about how husband Reilly turned loose a terrified pet hamster on the sidewalks of New York to get rid of it.  Foster is the biggest pill of this foursome though, as her humorless would-be writer, currently working on a book about genocide in Darfur,  continually brings down the house with her self-righteous heavy handed lecturing about evolved consciousness and society.


At times the women stick together, then it’s the men, then it’s everyone for themselves as the discussion turns personal and philosophical and even violent as Foster bats her husband who has reached his limit with her “I’m-better-than-the-rest-of-you” lecturing.  She also throws Winslet’s purse across the room.

 (See a clip here)

It’s all an exhausting display, and you never know what direction the conversation or the characters will go next.  In the end, as a momentary scene of the boys back together at the playground reveals, the adults have overthought and become overwrought over something that the boys apparently have overcome easily enough on their own.


The movie rates high in great performances and thought-provoking dialog, but it’s no picnic. 


Carnage will be available on Blu-ray for $35.99 and on DVD for $30.99, featuring Actors’ Notes, a look at the making of the film, a filmed Q&A with John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz, and a red carpet featurette.