We watched Roman Polanski’s, Carnage, today. The movie wasn’t great understatedly, and about 40 minutes into it I commented that it should have been a play, especially since there were basically only two settings throughout, a living room and a bathroom off the master bedroom where Christopher Waltz (the best part of the whole thing) whose character played Jodie Foster’s character’s husband is washing vomit off his pants, the courtesy of Nancy Cowan, played by Kate Winslet. Actually, it was a play originally, and I think I wouldn’t have dozed off intermittently had I been in public, and the play would have also held my interest a bit more than the film did, I think. The film was based on a play written by a French playwright, Yasmina Reza. How closely it followed the play, I don’t know, but it was also filmed in France since Polanski can’t come to the US.
As usual, I saw things in this film that no one else did and perhaps for that reason I liked it somewhat better than they did. It’s my opinion that the reason that I saw what I did, but they didn’t is because I saw it with three lefties.
The thrust of the whole fiasco (there is no such thing as a spoiler here) is that the Cowans’ son had his teeth knocked out at school in a brawl with and by the Longstreet’s son. It sounds like these were permanent teeth because of the age of the boys, around 13 or so, therefore a much more serious matter. The Cowans invited the Longstreets to visit them at their Brooklyn apartment to “civilly” discuss the issue.
Penelope Longstreet is a writer and her husband is some kind of door parts salesman, much more a middle class couple than the Cowans, though Penelope is more educated than her husband, but typically left-wing in their very obvious, though futile attempt to hide any true feelings of hostility toward the Cowan's son who, as Jodie Foster put it at one point, “disfigured” their son. The aggressor’s parents are older yuppies, much more sophisticated than the Cowans. Alan Cowan is an ambulance chasing attorney and Nancy, his wife, is depicted as more sophisticated than Penelope Cowan, the writer, though I’m not sure of her career choice. (might have been revealed one of the times I dozed off, but it’s not that important)
As the story unfolds, there is a little humor as the couples try to come to some meeting of the minds about how they are going to deal with the problem. At one point, the women even ally against the men over a silly incidental. Nancy projectile vomited all over the living room, including her husband and the coffee table upon which sat some irreplaceable art magazines of Penelope’s. By this time, they should have actually left because the couples had already almost come to blows themselves in their futility to make peace. Penelope’s apple-pear cobbler was a peace-offering that caused the vomiting disaster, or at least that’s what the Cowans thought. So it’s a volatile depiction of an almost, but not ever quite achievement to a humanistically derived peace that soon evaporates because of the harsh feelings they wish to subjugate, and for which they are ashamed not to have evolved to achieve in actuality. They were not able to adequately convince even themselves of their evolution to any state of superior consciousness. That is what seemed to overshadow the feud between their sons for them. I saw this as a self-centered and egotistical character portrayal that I believe Polanski wanted to portray as Carnage at the expense of the injured boy whose plight was never really attempted to be considered from his perspective by any of them.