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Wednesday 14 December 2011


The trailer for Carnage made me think of Edward Albee's, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe.  I hold Albee in the highest regard, as I do Mamet, Beckett, Bukowski, Thompson and DeVito, to name a few.  Story tellers who need few props or gimmicks to deliver tension, conflict - I believe the term is "character driven."  Anyway, I love character driven stories with good dialogue.

Funny and kind of surprising, that this a Roman Polanski film.  Surprising because I thought he was in jail somewhere - should one separate an interesting professional career from a sketchy personal life?  I guess you could put Woody Allen in the same category. 

Funny because I mentioned Polanski in my review of Shame.  I made reference to his film Bitter Moon.  Bitter Moon is a film that every man should see.  It's a film about a man who's relationship with a beautiful young woman, for him, is based on sex.  For her, it is more than that - she is in love.  After he finally dumps her, and I think he tries a few times, she is truly devastated.  Very shortly afterwards, he has an accident and becomes a paraplegic.  She takes on the role of care giver and, as he is now fully dependent on her, she is in control...  "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned..."   Imagine your worst fears within this scenario and you have a powerful and disturbing film.

Carnage is the story of two couples, parents of school-aged children, who meet after one of the children hits the other in the face with a stick.  It appears that the entire story takes place in one couple's home, making this much like a stage play - like Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe. 

As the afternoon meeting progresses, the thin veil of civility slowly drops.  Add alcohol into the mix and personal issues within each relationship begin to arise.  More alcohol, less civility... Is Polanski showing us how ugly his personal life is/was by showing us how ugly we are beneath our social conventions? 

The trailer looks like an examination of parenthood, relationships, social dynamics amidst the deconstruction of civility. The children and the incident that brought the couples together are much less important than the interaction between the adults.  In the end, the trailer doesn't give away the outcome.  Do the relationships survive?  Given that this is a Polanski film, I trust that the children will get over the incident long before the adults get over their afternoon together.

I hope to see this film over the holidays, just to kill my festive spirit.

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