What I Saw: Carnage
Most of us were taught to be suspicious of mean people, but personally I find that it is nice people that I don’t trust. Their acts of charity are really debts that they’ll make you repay with interest; their compliments are merely a ploy to get you to acknowledge their superiority and thank them for judging you; and all the while their smiling faces hide their true intentions. What are you hiding, nice people, that could possibly require you to utilize so many deceptive techniques with such regularity?
The characters in Roman Polanski’s Carnage start out presenting their better angels. They are civilized, sensible and smiling. Before long, however, they turn into characters that I actually like! Christoph Waltz is the first truth-teller of the group. Initially pegged as the parent who is never present because he is always on his cell phone, he soon points out that it is the others who are actually distancing themselves from the situation through their false pleasantries. Kate Winslet plays his wife, a woman who tries so hard to make everyone happy that she makes me sick, and as luck would have it she ends up making herself sick too! Opposite them is John C. Reilly, dressed in his best sweater and making mindless small talk about flowers and cobbler, and Jodie Foster, who gets what she deserves as her insistence that people should be nice backfires horribly.
I rather enjoyed this film’s biting portrayal of our true psychological states, and the way that both the screenplay and the actors slowly peeled back the illusions of societal decency. My only complaint is that the film ended too abruptly for me. I wasn’t expecting a resolution or happy ending, mind you, but it would have been nice to see someone storm out or otherwise make clear that the conversation was over. Then again, if it had such a tidy and “nice” ending, I probably wouldn’t have trusted it!
Although the film did not get any love from the Academy, it did receive Golden Globe nominations for Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, and won France’s Cesar award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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My Lamb Score: 3 ½ out of 5 Lambs
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