Drawing from a decent cast of actors, including the likes of John C. Reilly (the one that looks like the love child of a cabbage patch kid and the little trolls you used to stick on the end of your pencil), Christoph Waltz (that chisel-jawed austrian, famous for his portrayal of the ‘Jewhunter’ in Inglorious Basterds), Jodie Foster (star of Panic Room, and manages in this film to play a woman so tightly wound that even breathing looks painful) and Kate Winslet (the one that I still can’t forgive for letting poor Jack drown in Titanic), Roman Polanski (Director of The Pianist, The Ghost etc) brings us a film that centres around two sets of parents trying to solve the fallout of a fight between their respective sons.
To me, what is so enjoyable about the film is that the scenario is such a common one. Everybody can relate to a time where fate has placed them in a room full of people they don’t know and don’t really want to know either. It’s in times like these that a front has to be created. A facade to hide anything that may cause friction or damning judgement. The only time can you start letting this illusion slide is when – after much tip-toeing and gently prodding – you’ve began to judge the character of the people around you or – as is the case with this film – pleasantries have all but been spewed across the floor.
Intellectuals will gnash their teeth and spit their couscous at the screen in contempt, blithering at the fact that the social themes being explored in the film are nothing new and do nothing to expand the mind. If you wish to have your minds expanded they you should watch the play by Yasmina Reza that this film was adapted from – God of Carnage. Or…or you could put your mouth over a leafblower and switch it on (do not do that).
There’s something morbidly humerous about watching people come unstuck and reducing themselves to basic instincts when they feel their ego threatened. This is shown with clarity as you watch the initial brinkmanship between the four people dissolve. Sly comments, leading questions, implied suggestions and indirect confrontations, in turn avalanche into explosive insults and mockery. To help this along is numerous phone call interruptions, a couple of projectile vomits that deserves BAFTAs all by themselves, and a few quarts of whiskey.
And all this is done in the space of eighty minutes. Polanski is astute enough to keep the film short, as any longer would have risked the arguing becoming a stale shouting match of who can scream the loudest or who can chuck the heaviest item the farthest – both making an appearance in this years Olympics. You can only have so many plot points encompassed within one room without things bordering on the ridiculous.
All in all, it isn’t a suddenly new and unique premise to suggest that we humans can sometimes blow things completely out of proportion if we begin to feel our own egos being taken into question; but it’s still good fun to watch it unfold in front of you.
N ow out in wide release