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MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language

Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 19 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 30, 2011 (festival)
December 16, 2011 (limited)
DVD: March 20, 2012
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics

fights between children

childish behavior by adults



dysfunctional family

hysteria / freaking out

medication side effect


Parenting and family Q&As
Featuring: Jodie FosterPenelope Longstreet
Kate WinsletNancy Cowan
Christoph WaltzAlan Cowan
John C. ReillyMichael Longstreet
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Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: SBS Productions
Constantin Film Produktion
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Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

“A new comedy of no manners.”

It isn’t often that a film today is called “brilliant,” or a “work of art,” but Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” certainly earns the moniker. The title is a little misleading; “Carnage” is no crash-and-burn, shoot-‘em-up action adventure movie. In my opinion, “Carnage” is not a movie at all; it is a film. It was not made for a mass audience, but viewers with discerning tastes.

“Carnage” stars powerhouse actors Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet as the mothers of two school-aged boys meeting after one of the boys bullied the other. There with their two husbands, played by Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly who proves he has the ability to move beyond the usual sophomoric roles he is typically given. He has come a long way from his “shake and bake” days in films like “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

Following in the tradition of the classic film “Twelve Angry Men,” all of the action in “Carnage” takes place in one location—it opens by showing a brief, grainy image of the playground altercation, but the remainder of the film is situated in the victim’s parents’ apartment. We never meet the boys, only their parents; the incident is only described through their eyes. None of them were present at the time, but each has ideas why the fight started, and each has just as many questions and accusations.

Adapted from a stage play, the film does not lose that dramatic element in the translation to film. It feels like a live-action stage play. Polanski’s skill as a director is very evident here, as the viewer is treated to a well-crafted and well-stitched story. This tale follows the four parents trying to make sense of their boys’ relationship, while their own seem to unravel at the seams; the viewer sees into the lives of the children through the kaleidoscopic emotions of their parents. Adding to the madness, the viewer is never permitted to forget that these parents are meeting for the very first time, and all of the action happens within a short space of time—just a couple of hours.

“Carnage” is rated “R” for its language; there is no nudity, no violence to speak to speak of, no moral infidelity or sexual overtones, just way too much potty mouth. The viewer is almost tricked; the bad language appears out of nowhere in the second half of the film. It is totally gratuitous; the film could have definitely run its course without a single curse word and still have been a success.

Definitely not family-friendly fare, but mature adults who are looking for a “different” movie to watch at home (“Carnage” is now on DVD) may enjoy this film, if they can get beyond the language [one may ask if, as Christians, we should we get beyond the language?]. It is a well-acted, well-directed film, nonetheless.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—This movie is a study of the many layers that people have, most of which they are reluctant to reveal. The film has a slow and irritating start, but eventually succeeds in showing how easily people’s proprieties can unravel.

All performances were fairly good, though I found Jodie Foster’s histrionics unnecessary. A Chekhov wanna be, but without the depth or texture of a Chekhov drama. I saw no comedy here; rather, a sad commentary on how vacant people’s lives can be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Halyna Barannik, age 65 (USA)

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