Roman Polanski is back after his wonderfully dark film The Ghost with a film adapted from Yasmina Reza’s stage play The God of Carnage that retains the feel of a theatre piece showcasing verbal fireworks and suffers as a result.
Brooklyn, New York. Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) and her husband Michael (John C. Reilly) are hosting Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) in their apartment due to the fact that the Cowan’s son Zachary (Elvis Polanski) has had a playground dust-up with their son Ethan (Eliot Berger). At first they are polite as the two couples negotiate where the blame lies and how to help the boys resolve their issues. Things rapidly descend into farce as semantics are argued, marital strains emerge and the couples’ throw civility aside and argue.
Polanski is highly skilled at putting unhappy people in difficult situations and letting things play out. My first Polanski films were Repulsion, and Cul-de-sac. They brilliantly used the film medium to display the fragmenting relationships and characters. It is the same here as two outwardly happy relationships break down but it is so unrelenting and at times contrived that it feels false.