Sunday, 26 February 2012


Last night I finally had a chance to see the acclaimed film version of Yasmina Rezas play "Le dieu du carnage". To explain beforehand: I saw a stage version in Wiesbaden years ago when the play was still really fresh and: didn´t like it. So my hopes to like the film were there...but not overly high.

When two grade-school boys get into a confrontation in the park that results in one boy hitting the other in the mouth with a stick, their parents meet in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the matter. The parents of the boy wielding the stick, Alan and Nancy Cowan (Waltz & Winslet), visit the home of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (Reilly & Foster), who are the parents of the boy who was struck. Their meeting is initially intended to be a short visit but various circumstances, such as Nancy vomiting in the Longstreet's living room and Alan's numerous cell phone conversations, continue to draw it out. At first, the verbal exchange between the two married couples maintains a high civility factor but when the differences between them start to emerge, subtly at first and eventually glaringly, the couples begin to turn on each other and finally each on their own spouse. As their civility and inhibition washes away, aided by a bottle of Scotch whiskey, the geniality vanishes, descending fully into verbal warfare with all their character flaws laid bare.
In the end, the film cuts to footage of the two boys reconciling on their own, without the aid of their parents and while the credits roll, they are shown continuing to play in the park. (wikipedia)

Yes, where to start?!
The plot itself...well. I know it is exciting to see what lies behind the well-kept facades of successful, stylish and modern people who appear to have everything under control and it´s even more interesting to see what it takes to make that cover break through. There is a lot of truth hidden in all the behavioral traits depicted and in their deconstruction. A whole discussion about values, manners, communication and upbringing could spin of from just seeing the film or seeing the play. So it is sort of thought-provoking, I give you that.
The four characters are probably very enjoyable parts to play and I cannot fault the talent and ability to act of any of the protagonists. So why did over-critical, picky, pseudo-intellectual and non-mainstream me not like it then again?

First of all the reasons are superficial and simple. Jodie Foster is unappealing, John C. Reilly boring, Kate Winslet not my cup of tea with her scary eye-brows and her nowadays so streamlined figure and I really don´t know what to think about Christoph Waltz (though he is playing the most likeable character).
Why did the story have to be moved to Manhattan? (I know that this happened in order to be able to use big names and make it a big film). I remembered bits from the stage performance I saw and the prominently features "Clafoutis"- to make a "Cobbler" out of it just doesn´t cut it for me (but that is just me...again).
I would have preferred the film to stay French because I sort of think that there are certain differences in how people behave there compared to the same situation stateside. Anyway. Why does Kate Winslet speak with an American accent?!? Unsexy...very. And why is Christoph Waltz, who clearly still sounds German/Austrian playing an American?!? Not convincing for me...
The viewer is trapped in that chic and tasteful apartement together with the two couples. Trapped seems to be the right word cause it really is a nerve-wracking film. So much aggressions, so much hidden hostility, so many witty head was overpowered after a while and I left cinema feeling sort of exhausted. Not a waste of time but nothing to watch again either. One thing though I can´t forget (unfortunately):
The vomit is in the script, it has to be, I honestly forgot about it. It is disgusting. Call me a wimp but I really have a problem with things like that and as other people have a spider phobia I have a vomit phobia (which is called emetophobia by the way). Read up on it if you are interested but you can understand why a scene like the one in the film spoils it all for me. No, never again. And definitely not funny. Especially not as the charming guy sitting next to me for the first half of the film chewed salami sandwiches. Yuck, there really are no true manners under adults any more - so maybe there is a big chunk of truth in "Carnage".


  1. I've seen the trailer and even this short excerpt was too much for me.

  2. I saw this play in Germany and my favourite scene was when John C Reilly's character gives the Jody Foster character almost a full pint of whisky, which she downs to save face. It was so well done when I originally saw it but lacking from the film :(