3 February 2012

What do you get when you put two couples in a room for the first time and add cutthroat tension and a bottle of scotch? Arguments, passive-aggressiveness, puke and well… just pure carnage. You wouldn't expect such behaviour from bohemians Penelope and Michael (played by Jodie Foster and John C Reilly) and business types Nancy and Alan (played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) when we first meet them. After all, they are adults who are trying to work out a dispute between their sons. They have come together to make peace (or at least we think that is what they were trying to do...)

Things get prickly from the start and it all goes downhill when no one is willing to let either the smallest things go (though the seemingly pleasant Michael stealing his child's hamster and leaving it on the street probably isn't a small thing). You can almost feel the tension coming out of the cinema screen and the middle class couples grit their teeth whilst getting sly digs in here and there. Alliances are made and broken and war is announced between the couples, the men and the women and even three on one at one point. We won't spoil it, but there's an incident between Nancy and Penelope's beautiful coffee table books, which is unbelievably funny and unfortunate...

Carnage is entirely set in real time and in one New York apartment, which could have the potential to be a bit grim, but it actually works fantastically well. Roman Polanski adapted it from Yasmina Reza's stage play, God of Carnage. There's an interesting interview on The Guardian online where she talks about her experience of working with Polanski if you want to find out more. We were able to catch it at the Member's Preview a few weeks ago and just couldn't stop laughing.