Playground fight spills over
Barry C Chung
Conflicts inevitably spring up between kids. Parents often feel obliged to intervene. They're the ones left to pick up the broken pieces and come up with a fix. Or not. And especially not in Roman Polanski's stage-to-film black comedy adaptation, Carnage.
The opening scene, shot from a distance, shows a group of children playing in a park. A minor skirmish results in one kid striking another with a tree branch.
And then comes the parental intervention inside a middle-class Brooklyn apartment, where the rest of the film is set. Two pairs of parents: Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) Longstreet and Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christopher Waltz).
At first they are well-mannered, but soon their polite chat turns into all-out verbal warfare. The superficial pleasantries turn into no-holds-barred jabs, where no topic is off limits. (The rapid-fire banter may be too difficult to follow for those who rely on subtitles.)
Three times, the visiting Cowans are out the door, but they return for believable reasons. Thus the carnage continues.
The closing scene circles back to the opening. This time, the two kids are playing happily together. They've patched things up without the intervention of their parents.
Boys will boys. Grown-ups need to grow up.
Contains strong language