Something In The Air
A semi-autobiographical drama from director Olivier Assayas set in 1970s Paris
Two couples attempt to resolve a dispute between their sons but tempers soon fray spectacularly in Roman Polanski's comedy starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster.
"At this point in the game, I may as well have a drink" quips Christoph Waltz two thirds of the way into Carnage; and if the evening that he's sharing with Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly is a game, then it's a blood sport. Covered in vomit and verbally abused, Roman Polanski's mean little comedy has given the character good reason to swig the hard stuff but there's no need for sympathy - he's a complete bastard. They all are, to a greater or lesser degree, and therein lies the fun.
A comedy of malice, Carnage is a tight film expertly paced by Polanski who demonstrates a talent for tickling ribs that will probably come as a surprise to many. Adapted from Yasmina Reza's play 'Le Dieu du Carnage' the film (a collaboration between Reza and Polanski) falls into three acts - or bouts - of steadily worsening relations. Skewering the upper middle-classes with wry observations of their neuroses and petty obsessions, Polanski just about manages to sidestep snootiness and stays in the realm of the cheeky. In fact the script does have some very clever judgement to pass, although there is an unfortunate reliance on some tired gender tropes in the film's final stretch.
Forcing four angry people into close quarters with one another when it's immediately apparent that there's friction (and staying with them in real-time) is deliciously cruel but the film is far from awkward viewing. In fact Polanski seems to be saying "It's okay! These are ridiculous people, have a giggle." With all the sniping and barbed remarks it's a bit like watching four strangers duke it out on a bus, but without the pressure to interject.
What really keeps the simple premise buoyant are the pitch-perfect cast who are all sickeningly authentic. Foster especially stands out as having got into her liberal guilt-laden writer, running with the idea - straight over the edge. It's great fun to watch the disgust form in her brow as her prim sensibilities are ruthlessly jabbed at, even if she is the most identifiably sane of the lot. Waltz's slightly threatening air, Winslet's hysterical misery and Reilly's goofy chauvinism tie the script together nicely and it looks like they're all revelling in the chance to misbehave as 'lord and lady of the flies'. Even if there are some predictable script choices it's consistently funny and refreshingly nasty.
Tensions mount, tempers fray and platitudes are thrown out of the window but Polanski's comedy of spite is hilarious, cathartic and perfectly-portioned.
The acclaimed filmmaker and critic talks to Film4.com editor Catherine Bray about his film A Story Of Children And Film, which premiered in Cannes Classics [caption id="attachment_2502" align="alignn
Film4.com editor Catherine Bray catches a morning screening of Sideways director Alexander Payne's Nebraska at Cannes... In 1985, Alexander Payne made a short film called Carmen, which relocated th
On Film4: 01 June 2013