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‘Carnage’ Movie Review (and Opens the New York Film Festival)

‘Carnage’ Movie Review (and Opens the New York Film Festival)


Directed by Roman Polanski

Written by Roman Polanski (screenplay), Yasmina Reza (play)

2011, USA

Today proved to be the most populous screening at the Lincoln Center yet, and I should have known better. As the Q&A for Miss Bala came to an end, a rush of press got up and headed for the exit. Thinking there was time to spare before the next screening of Roman Polanski’s Carnage, I gave the respect due to the director and actress of yet another great film and stayed til the end. Proceeding to get my complimentary coffee and bagel, another crowd whistled by my side. Looking down at my watch, there was ten minutes left to cross the street. No problem, I was going to make it with no hassle (as so I thought). Perhaps it was my upstate mentally that clouded the mere fact that this was a gala film with much hype backing it up. So, I made my way up the escalator of the Walter Reade Theater and got around the bend of a concrete pillar by the entrance. My mouth dropped. The line meandered around the building to the back way of a second office building. It was going to be a long wait (check out the photo below if you don’t believe me), and my chances looked bleak. Fortunately the line moved at a brisk pace, but right when I got to be the third person to get in, the velvet ropes went down and I was told to wait. It did not look good. Luckily, the fine people at the Film Society opened up the second theater, of which I just came from, and used it for the overflow of press. So I grabbed my pass and this time hustled away from the crowd to the Beale Theater. The lesson learned is just to stay put, but at least I got some exercise. And boy was it a well deserved lesson, for Carnage is a great watch.

The film follows two New York City couples ( Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly) as they gather in an apartment to discuss a fight that broke out between the couple’s young sons. Armed with their distinct personalities, the film exquisitely unravels itself via the raw acting chops of its veteran cast. The old adage of being civilized versus being animalistic plays against each other as the couples belt it out together. Based on Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony-winning play God of Carnage, Roman Polanski opens the public festival with this gala presentation. For more details, see the trailer and synopsis below or visit the film’s page at

Summoning up the sinister from beneath the veneer of normalcy has always been Roman Polanski’s specialty, so it’s no surprise that the great director does such a smashing job of putting Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony-winning play God of Carnage on the screen. With the expert cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, Reza’s explosively comic X-ray of the anger and venality lying just under the surface of the outwardly civilized behavior of two New York City couples has been fully realized. Returning to the New York Film Festival with a feature for the first time since he presented his debut work, Knife in the Water, at the very first festival in 1963, Polanski pries open the true nature of these characters in something of a companion piece to his previous New York-set film, Rosemary’s Baby. Although it was filmed in Paris, the Brooklyn locale is as convincingly rendered as are the alternately uproarious and devastating revelations of human nature. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

Chris Clemente

Visit the official website for the New York Film Festival