Carnage Review

Sha Shewakar
  • 3.5/5

When two grade-school boys get into a fight in the park that results in one boy, Zachary Cowan, hitting the other, Ethan Longstreet, in the face with a stick, their parents meet in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the matter. Zachary's parents, Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet), visit the home of Michael (John C. Reilly) and Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster), Ethan's parents. Their meeting is initially intended to be short, but due to various circumstances, the conversation continues to draw out. In fact, Alan and Nancy begin to leave the apartment on two occasions, but are drawn back in to further discussion.

At first, the couples are friendly to each other, but their respective comments start to hurt feelings, making everyone argue with one another. Apart from fighting amongst themselves, the couples blame each other about who is responsible for the fight between their sons. Nancy calls the Longstreets "superficially fair-minded" and Penelope and Michael complain about Alan's arrogant and dull attitude. Everyone also gets irritated with Alan when he accepts endless business phone calls on his BlackBerry, interrupting the discussion, and showing he has more interest in his business problems than the matter at hand. Michael also receives many phone calls from his ailing mother, to his frustration.

Nancy accuses Michael of being a murderer because he, annoyed by the constant noise it made during the night, had earlier turned his daughter Courtney's pet hamster loose in the street. Penelope becomes emotional about the hamster and with everyone arguing with each other. Other issues include a risky drug Alan is working to defend and Michael's mother has been prescribed, and the question of idealism and responsibility that is part of Penelope's current work.

Michael offers everyone a glass of fine scotch. Penelope claims she doesn't "get drunk" and Nancy drinks way too many and finally stops Alan's phone calls by dropping his cellphone in Penelope's flower vase full of tulips and water. Penelope and Nancy both laugh uproariously while Michael and Alan try to blow-dry the BlackBerry.

The conversation continues to decay into personal attacks and opinionated statements and, eventually, epithets are uttered. Penelope is ranting, calling Nancy's son a 'snitch', and Nancy's true colors are revealed when she destroys the tulips and drunkenly and vulgarly states she is glad that her son beat up Penelope's and Michael's son. The couples realize the conversation is going nowhere. Alan's BlackBerry, lying on the coffee table, vibrates, and all four stare at it.

The film cuts to the hamster, alive and well in the park, where Ethan and Zachary are reconciling on their own.