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Film Review: Roman Polanski's Carnage

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Let the Carnage Begin...

Since winning the Best Director Oscar for The Pianist back in 2002, Roman Polanski has yet to offer a film to match the brilliance of his World War II drama. His political thriller The Ghost, provided a lacklustre contribution to the film schedule of 2010, but with a move into comedy with Carnage, has the Polish director got his mojo back?

A film interpretation of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning stage comedy God of Carnage, we watch two New York couples do battle in a Brooklyn apartment, as they try to resolve a violent dispute between their (absent) sons. Blue-collar Michael and Penelope Longstreet's (John C Reilly and Jodie Foster) face off with white-collar Alan and Nancy Cowen (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) stays true to the play with the action never leaving the apartment; a fitting theme of confinement that can be seen in much of Polanski's work (Rosemary's Baby, The Tenant).

From the opening, where a seemingly mild clash over the use of the word "armed" unfolds the differences in parental opinion between the two couples, the tension builds, bubbles and brews over espresso and homemade cobbler, until it literally erupts (and I mean literally. You'll know when you see it) into a darkly comical analysis of each pairs marital problems.

John C. Reilly is brilliant as the John Wayne-esque intolerant dressed up as a Liberal by a culturally overbearing Jodie Foster who believes she's the most civilised person in the room. Kate Winslet provides a strong support as the ignored working wife, but it's Christoph Waltz who carries the film for me.

Known for playing a string of unlikeable characters, there's no change as Allen, the workaholic father with his phone glued to his ear and the belief his wife should deal with the domestic issues, like his kid whacking someone in the face with a stick.

Nevertheless there is something likeable about Allen. Even with his misogynistic comments, lack of manners and patronising attitude he knows what a prick he is and isn't going to apologise for it. Maybe in real life I'd want to slap him, but in the movie he's great to watch and Christoph gives an excellent comic performance, showing he can do much more than play charismatically sadistic villains.

Spending 88 minutes watching four people argue it out in a living room may not seem like much, but these actors bring the script to life in a way that will have you smiling, laughing and cringing all the way through.

In cinemas nationwide today

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