Sat 25 Feb 2012
‘Carnage’ is a disappointment. Having seen the play staged in Bucharest last spring I knew what it was about, and I was expecting much more from a film directed by Roman Polanski and adapted to screen by the playwright herself, Yasmina Reza, one of the most successful theater authors nowadays. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is only the cast that did not disappoint, and as much as I love to watch all that Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet do, they do not succeed to break the barrier of the expected.
I am not sure what or who is to blame. Maybe it starts with the script, which does little beyond transferring the story from France to Manhattan and does not add any element that can be turned into visual language. It goes on with the setting which is probably intentional banal, but seems to constrain permanently the moves of the actors and interfere with their expressions. It ends with the directing which lets the actors do their job (which is good) but adds little to the overall message of the film with the exception of the prologue and epilogue filmed outdoors. I felt no Polanski thrill in this film and I missed it.
Does the message make it? Maybe having seen the play prepared me too much and I was a viewer hard to be impressed. The involution and graduate de-peeling of the layers of civility is there, but less poignant than I expected. The relationship between the bourgeois environment and the violence in the streets, between the violence of the relations between kids and the one experience by one of the characters in Africa are largely lost. Maybe Polanski’s ‘Carnage’ is an example of the differences between what makes a successful play and a successful screen adaptation and a proof that too much good acting does not necessarily make good cinema.