23 December 2011

Review: Carnage

Genre: Comedy

Alexandre Desplat's picaresque score opens Roman Polanski's newest work, an adaptation of a Tony-award winning play, Carnage with serious aplomb. The characters, like their staged predecessors, are the equivalents of pressure-cooked quarters: enslaved by the whimsical machinations of their offspring, constricted by the formalistic pretenses of their ideals, and driven by the hot-plate sears of constant application to aught else but themselves.

In successfully bottling this volatility within the fragile lens of the camera Mr. Polanski has succeeded; however, not only he but also his actors, who deliver fine performances all around, do honor to the original screenwriter's, Ms. Reza's, words and nuances. Of the four, Ms. Foster reads the most engaged; her performance is honestly the best work that I have seen from her in many years. She is the epitome of what the play means to tender: the raw-exposed figure beneath the slick veneer, one wild and untamed, frothing and bubbling even in moments of quietude and appealing to any emotion that may cross her path for relief from the intense selflessness that she must experience - must. She is simply beautiful to watch. Ms. Winslet, her second, is also startling good, shaking like the ice in her almost constantly held cocktail glass, while the men play supportive turns feeding the fire (and frequently being scalded by it too, though on them it shows less clearly). Truly, this ensemble is strong; and Mr. Polanski's success is in allowing its members the berths to do what they do best and in stepping in, to help conquer the limited space of the pressure-cooker, whenever necessary. In this task he is not, therefore, unlike the attendant cook, making sure the contents of his lidded pot do not blow over before they've finished being seared; though it sounds like a diminutive task, it from my perspective at least is surely not.

For all mentioned, even the tiniest misstep could set the whole thing asunder.

Grade: B

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