Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 12, 2012
    88
    Think "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," but then think fun.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 12, 2012
    88
    The film's an even four-hander, with awful behavior spread evenly among the characters and spellbinding performances by the quartet of co-leads.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jan 11, 2012
    83
    Carnage gives Polanski the best opportunity to express his devilish sense of humor in decades, proving again that comedy really is tragedy happening to someone else.
  4. Reviewed by: Adam Smith
    Jan 30, 2012
    80
    A quartet of pitch-perfect performances from a cast uniformly at its career best, together with a director on shockingly mischievous top form, this is a shot of pure, exhilarating cinematic malice. And if nothing else, it contains the most surprising puking sequence since Monsieur Creosote.
  5. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    Oct 4, 2011
    80
    Relatively light-hearted for a Polanski film (no one dies), Carnage is fun verbal warfare cleanly filmed.
  6. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 30, 2011
    80
    Snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old, this adaptation of Yasmina Reza's award-winning play God of Carnage fully delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 14, 2012
    75
    When a man whose wife was killed by cultists invites us to laugh at life's absurdities, the particulars are almost incidental.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 14, 2012
    75
    Among them, Polanski's four-person cast boasts four Oscars and eight more nominations, so these are big-league actors who are capable of carrying a film such as this through its occasional miscalculations.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 12, 2012
    75
    A lot of people have no use for Carnage, especially in its unapologetically hemmed-in film version. And yet there isn't a sloppily or casually considered shot in any of the 80 minutes.
  10. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 11, 2012
    75
    This is not a particularly memorable film, but Polanski brings a great deal of skill to its staging, and it looks as if the actors enjoy themselves.
  11. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 15, 2011
    75
    Is it entertainment? Is it satire? Is it art? It's probably a little of all three, and yet ultimately not quite enough of any.
  12. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 14, 2011
    75
    Scathing and funny and cynical about contemporary society and the hypocritical way we live now, Carnage may not be the dream movie I expected, but it has a dream cast of pure, unimpeachable ensemble perfection.
  13. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Sep 30, 2011
    75
    Fast, furious and often funny. But no blood is truly shed (except literally in a playground fight during the opening credits).
  14. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Sep 28, 2011
    75
    One doesn't have to look too closely at Carnage's final shot to marvel at the way Polanski refuses to haughtily indict his audience in the pettiness of his characters' behavior.
  15. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jan 12, 2012
    70
    The dialogue is superior, though, and director Roman Polanski has cast the characters well; Foster is particularly impressive in a stridently unattractive role, as the pinched, angry liberal who's orchestrated the meeting but doesn't get quite the apology she wants.
  16. 70
    A scabrous, amusing, and thoroughly predictable exercise in exposing the animalistic underbellies of grown-ups pretending to be civilized liberals.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 16, 2011
    70
    Seeing these four actors launching Reza's zingers at each other at high speed is pretty much worth the price of admission all by itself, and one thing you always know about Polanski is that he won't waste your time.
  18. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 15, 2011
    70
    Not only is Polanski very much in his comfort zone with this material, he also has cast it impressively, staying away from any of the actors who played the parts in either its London or New York productions and finding players who match up well with Carnage's juicy dialogue.
  19. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jan 11, 2012
    67
    The script is chockablock with al dente amusements – obvious targets still make for wickedly funny one-liners – and the German actor Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) is terrific as the only parent unburdened by decorum.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 16, 2011
    67
    If this was a quintessential Polanski movie, something malign would reside inside its heart: The sitcom would explode its boundaries. The movie is called Carnage, but the carnivores on display are toothless.
  21. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Dec 14, 2011
    67
    By the time everyone in Carnage has revealed themselves, we're left not with flawed human beings, but with monsters of banality whose company represents a brutal form of punishment in itself.
  22. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 4, 2011
    67
    Polanski struggles to make the material more cinematic, toying with clever mise-en-scene to showcase the mounting tensions. However, Carnage repeatedly suffers from an internal tension between the possibilities of two media at odds with each other.
  23. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 16, 2011
    65
    But it does mean you're always aware that you're watching filmed theater - a scripted pressure-cooker where playability is being allowed to trump plausibility as theoretically cultivated adults morph into savages - going from civility to carnage in 80 minutes flat.
  24. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 15, 2011
    63
    While the talented quartet play these hypocritical sorts with finesse, the story grows tiresome, its cynical point made early and often.
  25. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 12, 2011
    63
    Carnage suffers from a common problem that afflicts many stage-to-screen adaptations: too much artifice and contrivance.
  26. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Dec 29, 2011
    60
    If anything, Carnage does too little to adapt to the new medium, and the result is a film that makes its audience feel as trapped as its characters.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 15, 2011
    60
    It's a shame neither actress can truly "go for the jugular," as Alan says at one point. This is a work that would allow for it.
  28. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 13, 2011
    60
    Watch the director's 1976 "The Tenant," and you'll know he can do more with less.
  29. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Dec 15, 2011
    58
    In such an audience stroker, where casting is everything (on Broadway, James Gandolfini brought exciting menace to the role of Mr. Longstreet), Winslet and Waltz jell while Foster and Reilly flounder, unable to make sense of what kind of people they're supposed to be.
  30. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Jan 12, 2012
    50
    The film isn't half as deep as intended, but parts of it are very funny - someone actually barfs onto a stack of art books - and the parts that aren't may as well be.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 103 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27
  1. Apr 5, 2012
    4
    Carnage suffers from a bad script that is simply unfunny. The actors are quite good and know how to play there role, but they cannot save this 71 minute long film from feeling like a total drag. This is also the first polanski film that I have not enjoyed. Full Review »
  2. Mar 30, 2012
    8
    I gotta say , at the start I thought the movie will be supper boring . The first 15 min was boring but finally it turned out to be really funny. Haven't seen this kinda comedy film in ages ! One Apartment , 2 couples fighting over something so silly and all with the phone and hamster amazing . Good actors and their acting and Kate was clearly the best among them. Nice directing by Roman and Really good screenplay too . Over all a different kinda fun movie ! Full Review »
  3. Apr 4, 2012
    4
    Who's Afraid of the God of Carnage? would be an apt title for this film since it is reminiscent of the Virginia Woolf play/film. Any film that takes place almost entirely in one room has to be be based on a play, and Carnage is no exception. The four characters occasionally tread into the hallway and there's a trip to the bathroom, and that's it. The stage lends itself well to prolonged dialogues and dramatic monologues, but film demands some action. The opening credits show the incident between the boys in the park; otherwise, the most action you'll see here is when Kate Winslet's character throws up all over uptight Jodie Foster's art books. Both actresses got nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy, but there is not one line in this film that is even remotely humorous. The ancient Greek definition of comedy is any play that has a happy ending--Carnage still does not qualify. It has no ending at all. It seems to stop in the middle. We'll need a sequel to find out if the two boys ever reconciled like grown-ups or even to find out if the two marriages survived that disastrous encounter. At least Polanski remembered to tie up the loose end about the hamster--that was an enormous relief. In between the opening credits and the hamster, two civilized couples get together to talk about the fact that the son of Nancy and Alan Cowen (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) bashed in the teeth of the son of Penelope and Michael Longstreet (John Reilly and Jodie Foster). The injuries are serious but will heal and perhaps will need some cosmetic surgery, but the boy will not be marked for life. The parents have the best of intentions--to reconcile with each other and set an example so that the boys will reconcile. The visiting parents of the offending boy are about to leave, twice, and the second time they make it to the elevator. By the end of the movie, you wish they had left, and there was no reason for them to be enticed back for a cup of coffee. It was an uncomfortable, unpleasant visit, and everyone wanted it to end, including the viewers. Instead it dragged on for eighty minutes, short for most films but interminable in this film. The conversation starts out being politically correct but quickly deteriorates as both couples lose it, lash out at the other couple, and then spouses lash out at each other, and all the chinks in the armor of the holy institution of marriage get blown away so that there is no armor left, just the carnage. The play was called â Full Review »