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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Carnage

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Picture yourself in a small apartment in Brooklyn, one where you could look out the window and see Manhattan. Then picture yourself watching the action in the tiny apartment unfold on stage.
 
Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christof Waltz) Cowan are visiting Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Rielly) Longstreet in that small apartment. The sons of these two sets of parents have had a fight.  The parents are agreeing that the Cowen boy was the aggressor who hit the other boy and knocked out two teeth.
 
The middle class Longstreets are trying to be very civil and polite. Penelope is the moral voice of the film that continually struggles for higher ground; she is writing a book about Dafur because she cares so much. The upper crust Cowans, especially Alan, continually takes calls on his mobile phone during the conversation, irritating everyone. The Cowans try to leave two or three times but end up being drawn back into the spider’s web when they couples disagree about right and wrong between their children, Alan’s unethical tactics as a pharmaceutical executive, and Michael getting rid of bothersome a pet by letting it go on the street where it could be killed.
 
I suppose a case could be made for humor at some level for the carnage left after these grown-ups duke it out with words, and the existential carnage they spew on the universe by their conflicting worldviews. But a better case might be made for the influence of Jean-Paul Sarte’s  existential tome “Nausea” on the French writer Yasmina Reza who wrote the original play “The Gods of Carnage” and co-wrote the screenplay. Indeed, when Nancy throws up all over Penelope’s fine coffee table books about art, their battlefield over meaning is completely leveled by covering beauty with vomit.
 
This is a dark comedy set in a stuffy hell created by these parents who don’t really know who they are.
 
The film had to be made in Paris because of director Roman Polanski’s ongoing trouble with the law in the United States. The acting is taut and fine by all the actors but some plays are better left to the theater. 




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Florian: American Catholic Blog The French novelist Leon Bloy once said that there is only one tragedy in life: not to be a saint. It may be that God permits some suffering as the only way to wake someone from a dream of self-sufficiency and illusory happiness.

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