Carnage is a bit of an odd film in the sense that nothing really happens, by which I mean nothing’s resolved by the end. It was originally based on a play, God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, which is quite obvious throughout. I didn’t find out about the play until afterwards, but it very much felt like a play due to the limited cast (only four characters played by Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) and the use of only one set. I also felt the whole premise of the film, namely two adults having a discussion about a fight between their sons, was best suited to a play, because it was extremely dialogue heavy and very little of anything else. That’s not to say that all plays are like that of course, but I do think it probably works better in that medium than film.
I can’t say I really enjoyed Carnage, it was interesting but quite uncomfortable viewing. I think that’s because all the characters were clearly quite miserable and unfulfilled, and the argument descended to the level of a slanging match. What I really, really, really did not enjoy was seeing Kate Winslet vomiting everywhere. Frankly it was unnecessary, and completely repulsive. I ended up just wanting to shout at everyone throughout. If the couples really don’t like each other, why keep going back into the apartment to continue the argument? If an art book is so rare and important, why keep it on a coffee table where anyone could easily spill food and drink on it (let alone vomit on it)! Why are the parents even getting involved in their childrens’ dispute anyway, when it’s clear they barely know their own children at all? I think Kate Winslet’s character was the only one I really had any time for. She was clearly ridiculous, but I could get a real sense of her frustration with her husband (Christoph Waltz) and his unending phone calls. I wanted to give Jodie Foster’s character a good shake and tell her to get over herself and man up, and there’s something about John C. Reilly which I always find incredibly irritating, leading me to dislike all of his characters on principle. I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it.
To be perfectly honest, I found Carnage very frustrating and ultimately unsatisfactory, because the whole film was about a meeting which didn’t achieve anything (even though the closing shots show the children were perfectly capable of settling their argument by themselves). By the time it ended I didn’t even feel like I’d been watching a film, because it just didn’t go anywhere. Nothing really developed, the storyline didn’t really progress, and I found the whole thing a bit ‘meh’. It was disappointing because I’m normally a big fan of Kate Winslet. I did think she was the best actor in it and I could buy into her character a bit more, but at the end of the day the whole thing was rather bland and forgettable.
See previous Film Review, featuring Big Fish.