I’ve been looking forward to the release of Carnage since Kate Winslet promoted it alongside the release of Contagion on Graham Norton’s BBC2 show back in Autumn last year. So has it been worth the wait?

The answer for me is definitely yes. Carnage is stunningly produced and laugh out loud hilarious from start to finish. Yasmina Reza’s stage play God Of Carnage (which premiered in London in 2008) translates beautifully to the big screen. The dialogue is sharp, shrewd and makes some insightful points about modern life.

Director Roman Polanski stays true to the stage play, with the majority of the action taking place in the living room of a New York apartment. Here, within four walls that are littered with culture, amidst art books and African sculpture, two middle class couples meet to talk about a fight between their sons.

As the film’s name suggests, the mask of civility soon disintegrates into chaos, beginning with snide comments and ending with out-and-out name calling, a vomiting incident and physical mayhem. The parent’s feud is fuelled by a more mature bottle of 18 year old Scotch. It is at this turning point (the bringing out of the booze) that the characters get really interesting as we see the couples turn against their own spouses.

For a film that has just four characters and occurs in just one small room, Carnage does exceptionally well to hold audience interest and this is due in no small part to its outstanding cast. John C Reilly is delightful as the uncomfortable and cowed husband, Michael, to Jodie Foster’s liberal and principled Penelope. Both Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet (as Nancy, the opposing wife) escalate their character’s emotions, from disguised loathing to hysterical anger, flawlessly. Perhaps most astute though is Christopher Waltz as Nancy’s husband and passive father, Alan. More concerned with his business as a pharmaceutical lawyer and unable to put down his Blackberry, Alan’s character is played with intelligence and subtlety by Waltz.

Carnage is sharp and intelligent with four superb lead performances. Absolutely a must see.

VERDICT:   ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

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