Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: December 16, 2011
7.2
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 145 Ratings
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Positive:
101
Mixed:
38
Negative:
6
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8
SpangleJan 12, 2017
Adapted from a play, Carnage is set in a single room and is a dramatic and uproariously comical black comedy-drama from director Roman Polanski. Bringing together two couples who have to discuss an incident between their respective sons, theAdapted from a play, Carnage is set in a single room and is a dramatic and uproariously comical black comedy-drama from director Roman Polanski. Bringing together two couples who have to discuss an incident between their respective sons, the civilized encounter quickly turns nasty and shows the carnage of the situation between their sons. Opening wounds regarding their marriages, lives, and characters, the encounter soon descends into chaos with in-fighting and larger revelations about the world around us with the carnage extending far beyond expectations. Set in just the living room of one of the couple's homes with some scenes in the bathroom and hallway, the film is easily identified as a play, but is one hell of a play translated to film. One of the greatest accomplishments of the film, however, is how it characterizes each person. While the acting is exemplary, the characters are feasts for the eyes and have a lot of meat on their bones. This is largely examined when each is put on the hot seat and attacked by the other three people in the room, with the person on the hot seat constantly changing. What is crucial, however, is how fake each person is, which becomes apparent quite quickly.

The person who wants the meeting the most is undeniably Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster). Married to Michael (John C. Reilly), her self-righteous, savior of the world persona becomes readily apparent in her interactions with Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz). Constantly dramatizing his words and editorializing them, the attack on her child by the Cowan's boy is clearly seen as a personal affront because she sees the world in a particular way. As she describes, she is a believer in a civilized world with a set rule of law where violence has no place. Everybody else, however, has there point of difference on this stance and Penelope's superiority complex is constantly derided. Foster does a great job capturing both the defensiveness and perplexed nature of the character. Clearly an educated white liberal (I am independent, so this is not an attack on politics), Penelope seems to have operated in an echo chamber all her life with a husband who just gives up rather than fight her. As such, she is shocked to see anybody dare to trivialize the turmoil in Africa - which she has never seen first hand - in favor of issues that impact their immediate lives instead. She is prim, proper, and to the point, unafraid to express her opinion. The way in which the character is written feels incredibly authentic. The script by Yasmina Reza and Polanski really highlight what is important to this character when Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) pukes on her coffee table. Though she later apologized, Penelope freaks out that Nancy puked on her one-of-a-kind art magazine or something. Valuing culture above all else - family included - Penelope pretends to be conscientious of the world around her, but is just as materialistic and vapid as the rest of us.

As for her husband Michael, he is a shockingly cruel man. Killing his daughter's pet hamster Nibbles because he does not like rodents, Michael casually criticizes those who have kids and describes newlyweds as "poor **** who will wake up to the truth soon enough. Clearly unhappy in his marriage, nihilistic, and cynical about the world around him, Michael is a man whose values may be less clear than the others. Buying tulips to keep up appearances in front of the Cowans even though he does not want to meet with them, he is a guy who values money and displays of wealth. The tulips are a small part of this, but his emphasis on illegal acquired and expensive cigars, the 18-year old malt liquor, and his belief that kids are a drain on the lives of the parents, it is clear he values material wealth. While his wife is more concerned with what the money buys and the culture she lives in, Michael just likes to buy items that show off how much money he has acquired in his life.

On the other side of the table are the Cowans. Alan, a successful lawyer in the midst of a legal issue with a pharmaceutical company's unsuccessful drug, is clearly distracted. Constantly on the phone, he is like Michael in that he does not want to be there. He does not value his children and could care less about his son. As the ending shows, his son apologized on his own to the child he hurt. Yet, he casually casts him aside a maniac incapable of emotion and sympathy. He, according to his wife Nancy, delegates all matters of the kids and the home to his wife as that is his role. In this way, he is incredibly paternalistic. The man works and the woman raises the kids. He cannot process other methods of doing things, hence his need to constantly work in order to feel busy and accomplished. Since he barely has the wife and the kids are long gone from him, Alan focuses in on the only element he is good at: providing. As such, he is constantly on the phone and is obsessed with the thing. When his wife dumps it in the flower pot
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4
csw12Nov 26, 2015
Carnage from the surface doesn't look quite good but after watching the film it was quite entertaining. it had its funny moments but the last 10 minutes took it over the edge in a good way. a simple and short film that was solid all around.Carnage from the surface doesn't look quite good but after watching the film it was quite entertaining. it had its funny moments but the last 10 minutes took it over the edge in a good way. a simple and short film that was solid all around. Trash of a movie Expand
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9
carlosgzOct 28, 2015
This is definitely not a film for everyone. But it happens to be my type of movie. And I loved it. The level of pasive-agressiveness is crazy. I laughed way too much. All four actors are horribly magnificent (if you do watch the film, you'llThis is definitely not a film for everyone. But it happens to be my type of movie. And I loved it. The level of pasive-agressiveness is crazy. I laughed way too much. All four actors are horribly magnificent (if you do watch the film, you'll understand why I use "horribly"). But Winslet and Waltz - I mean - what else can I say?. Roman Polanski did something incredible here. Same set, same four actors, the entire film. Just recently I found out this was based on a play. Now it makes sense. The dialogue really plays out like a play and it works out very well here. At 88 minutes, it manages to not tire. What's more, I didn't wanted it to end. Expand
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9
El_JackoDec 12, 2014
It may not have done much to differentiate itself from its stage counterpart, but Carnage is still a sharp and hilariously true satire that follows in the footsteps of Virgina Woolf and Abigail's Party whilst taking itself much less seriouslyIt may not have done much to differentiate itself from its stage counterpart, but Carnage is still a sharp and hilariously true satire that follows in the footsteps of Virgina Woolf and Abigail's Party whilst taking itself much less seriously than them. Expand
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6
beingryanjudeAug 24, 2014
A film very clearly based off a successful stage play. Roman Polanski sits a quartet of incredibly talented actors in a room and observes along with us.
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10
jack977Jul 30, 2014
A realistic & deft study of a variety of real life human characters, skillfully acted out by the talented cast and masterfully directed by the legendary Polanksi.
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4
cheeseberger11Aug 10, 2013
i didn't get what was supposed to be funny about this movie. they just looked like a bunch of broken human beings. every time a character lashed out I took it more seriously then in humor. though the characters were well acted.
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9
Trev29Jun 9, 2013
Write out of the box I knew this movie was going to be a winner. With an intelligent, hilarious, and ruthless script not much could go wrong, especially when it is supported for 4 talented actors. It was unique and memorable, which counts aWrite out of the box I knew this movie was going to be a winner. With an intelligent, hilarious, and ruthless script not much could go wrong, especially when it is supported for 4 talented actors. It was unique and memorable, which counts a lot in my book. Expand
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8
StevenFJan 24, 2013
Taking place entirely in one room, Carnage tells the story of four relatively ordinary people,who soon bow to pressure to vent their frustration at the world, each other and themselves.
After their son strikes another child with a stick,
Taking place entirely in one room, Carnage tells the story of four relatively ordinary people,who soon bow to pressure to vent their frustration at the world, each other and themselves.
After their son strikes another child with a stick, married couple Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet visit the home of the victims parents, played by Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly.
What follows are some of the funniest situations to occur, mainly because they are the typical, awkward situations that can occur when entertaining strangers.
Christoph Waltz is particularly funny as Alan Cowen, clearly not wanting to be there, his unwillingness to care about the situation makes it funnier to watch and certainly helps with his deliverance of dialogue that can only be described as genius.
Jodie Foster's persistent crying/general annoyance at everything, while clearly scripted, can become irritating, but she acts this well, bouncing off the other mother, Kate Winslet, who has a surprisingly good comedic present, taking the weakened persona of the four.
John C. Reilly is brilliant as usual, While Waltz may be the standout, it's Reilly who is spot on with his puns, deliverance and timing, he is used to it after all. Such a simple premise works with these four big stars, its delightful to see actors leave their comfort zone and impress equally as much in other fields. top class effort from director Roman Polanski and definitely worth the watch
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3
FlippySuperOct 9, 2012
Hoooooooly **** this movie was crazy. the characters are **** INSANE, its all just by a minor problem, you start to think that the director was drunk when he had this idea,and the ending **** IT ALL!!
0 of 3 users found this helpful03
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7
Apemonkey666Aug 18, 2012
It's fun to see the thin layers as good manners, etiquette and politeness peel away as 2 couples discuss a fight which occured between their kids. It's very enjoyable but they could have taken it a bit further, more extreme but there's aIt's fun to see the thin layers as good manners, etiquette and politeness peel away as 2 couples discuss a fight which occured between their kids. It's very enjoyable but they could have taken it a bit further, more extreme but there's a chance that this would have undermined believability and made it somewhat ridiculous. Still worth a look though. Expand
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7
MyffubsJun 26, 2012
Roman Polanski's Carnage is a well-made film adaptation of a stage play. The story involves two couples who agree to meet following a violent interaction between their children. Before long both couples devolve into bickering monsters who areRoman Polanski's Carnage is a well-made film adaptation of a stage play. The story involves two couples who agree to meet following a violent interaction between their children. Before long both couples devolve into bickering monsters who are arguably worse than the kids. Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly star as Penelope and Michael Longstreet, and Kate Winslet and Christopher Waltz fill the roles of Nancy and Alan Cowan. In short the Cowan child hit the Longstreet child with a stick and broke two of his teeth, though the general consensus is that either couple could be in the other's position. Penelope is introduced as a do-gooder type, while Michael seems ill-fit for the formality of the occasion; Nancy wants to end the matters quickly, and Alan is content to condescend when not being interrupted by his cell. The film proceeds as a comedy of manners and lack thereof, and its success is dependent on the performances. Both Foster and Reilly are adequate, but Winslet and Waltz steal the show. There is nothing in Carnage to suggest that it has been altered or improved for cinematic treatment; indeed it could be a filmed play, which may turn off many a viewer. That said it was rather enjoyable for its documentation of seemingly decent people indulging in indecency. It provides its capable cast with some great scenes. Its humor is brittle and caustic, and its characters are recognizably human. Chances are experienced moviegoers will know whether or not they want to see Carnage; those who want to see it will likely enjoy it. Expand
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8
asthobaskoroMay 27, 2012
Carnage is compelling with smart, funny and sharp dialogue with little Polanski's direction help. All four its leads performance are overrated. I have to say that I hate the ending, don't show us the rodent, I have phobia.
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9
SpiralusApr 21, 2012
Before you watch this you should know that you're headed into a comedy, yes, but one that looks into the chaos of conflicting philosophies -new and old- as they try to grapple with modern expectations. It looks like this movie took some licksBefore you watch this you should know that you're headed into a comedy, yes, but one that looks into the chaos of conflicting philosophies -new and old- as they try to grapple with modern expectations. It looks like this movie took some licks from reviewers who were expecting something with more flash and bangle. All the breadth of this great movie happens in your head, not in the scenery. Be ready to laugh AT the characters AT yourself and AT us (humans). Loved it. Expand
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10
BradleyFilmApr 19, 2012
Carnage is an absolute blast! Sickeningly hilarious performances from the cast - including Kate Winslet who is perfectly pissed - as well as Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly who vie against each other with comedic perfectionCarnage is an absolute blast! Sickeningly hilarious performances from the cast - including Kate Winslet who is perfectly pissed - as well as Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly who vie against each other with comedic perfection until the wicked end! Epically funny! Expand
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4
cabritaApr 5, 2012
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 ICarnage 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. Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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4
ClariseSamuelsApr 4, 2012
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 noWho'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 Collapse
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10
TastyJamProjectApr 3, 2012
A pitch-black, hilarious upending of social conventions. The entire cast is exceptional and John C. Reilly is especially entertaining, and the script (based off of the French play "God of Carnage"), is whip-smart and Polanski's direction isA pitch-black, hilarious upending of social conventions. The entire cast is exceptional and John C. Reilly is especially entertaining, and the script (based off of the French play "God of Carnage"), is whip-smart and Polanski's direction is as usual exceptional, (although he lets the film speak for itself, there isn't much here that would discern it from other great directors, he lets the acting and writing to the heavy lifting). Overall, this is an intelligent, hilarious film for an older audience. Expand
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8
AkkharMar 30, 2012
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 somethingI 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 ! Expand
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8
A_NorthernerMar 27, 2012
Quirky French play transferred to the big screen by Roman Polanksi and starring a strong cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christopher Waltz. Two sets of parents meet up to discuss the recent behaviour of their childrenQuirky French play transferred to the big screen by Roman Polanksi and starring a strong cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christopher Waltz. Two sets of parents meet up to discuss the recent behaviour of their children with amicable intentions. The meeting quickly descends into a humourous farce as the four bicker and offend each other. All four characters take up allegiance with each other character at some point to verbally spar with the alternative pair. The script is witty and clever and all four actors give strong performances. Christoph Waltz's rude ignorant businessman father is the stand-out of the four, routinely answering his work phone in front of the couples until Foster reaches breaking point. All in all, an amusing and clever film showing that with the right material four actors and one set can be used to great effect. Expand
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6
RobinsNestMar 25, 2012
Carnage is two films. The first half or so is a comedy. Mr Reilly is an excellent comedian. All the players deliver their lines with an air of being on the edge. They don't seem to be taking the material seriously. They are having fun as ICarnage is two films. The first half or so is a comedy. Mr Reilly is an excellent comedian. All the players deliver their lines with an air of being on the edge. They don't seem to be taking the material seriously. They are having fun as I was. Then the seriousness takes over as the combatants rip each other apart with innuendo through biting one-liners. Mr Reilly once again is excellent. Making the transition from light-hearted banter so machete like strikes. Ms Foster is way over the top; why did Mr Reilly marry her? All this "stuff" hidden behind a tight lipped facade? I was not roused to take action, just to utter an "Are they kidding?" Perhaps it worked better on the stage but still worth a look. Expand
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9
hoops2448Mar 3, 2012
The general premise of two couples meeting to discuss their sons doesn't really work as a feature film, let alone a feature film directed by Roman Polanski. However the general idea of the film as alluded to in the title is that even in theThe general premise of two couples meeting to discuss their sons doesn't really work as a feature film, let alone a feature film directed by Roman Polanski. However the general idea of the film as alluded to in the title is that even in the most civil of all surroundings, things can fall apart into absolute chaos and Polanski shows this thanks to some brilliant performances by all four actors (Jodie Foster, John C Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christophe Waltz) and some resourceful direction. The film works as a drama but at its heart it is a very dark comedy that is outrageously funny in the way it slowly destroys these four people. Waltz's antagonistic lawyer is married to Kate Winslets uptight investment banker and they are avoiding the fact that deep down they hate each other. Jodie Foster and John C Reilly are the more liberal couple but they too are burdened by problems which are only exacerbated by Waltz and Winslets presence. The whole film seems completely realistic aside from the eloquent play like dialogue with a decent amount of twists and turns to keep things trundling along. The film blends physical and spoken comedy really well with both Winslet and Waltz showing great skill at the physical gags. There are some pretty interesting themes during the film with the key one being everyone is unhappy about something, you just need to know how to exploit it. Fortunately Polanski and his skilled cast know exactly how leading to some unbearably funny moments. Even if they don't want to admit it, each character is a deeply horrible person and watching them attempt to avoid their baser instincts and put up a facade is absolutely delightful. In essence, Polanski has discovered a way to make watching couples fight through their issues in a very public and embarrassing way both entertaining and painfully funny, which is wonderful in comparison to reality where it is extremely uncomfortable Expand
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8
lasttimeisawFeb 1, 2012
Size matters, right? even for Roman, after the brilliantly intricacy-crafted THE GHOST WRITER (2010), the scale of CARNAGE shrinks just like a hors d'oeuvre, no wonder its lukewarm feedback is percolating in spite of the lure of 4Size matters, right? even for Roman, after the brilliantly intricacy-crafted THE GHOST WRITER (2010), the scale of CARNAGE shrinks just like a hors d'oeuvre, no wonder its lukewarm feedback is percolating in spite of the lure of 4 Oscar-bounded leading thespians. Actually the response is par for the course, the film hinges on a more stringent time schedule (literally the exact time audience spends in front of the big screen), which is too featherweight to be considered seriously for the Oscar race (referring to other play-adapted Oscar dearest CLOSER 2004 or DOUBT 2008, both at least possess a decent time span), but which doesn't thwart all the fun one could obtain from a feature film. The disintegration of these two pairs of parents is intrigued bit by bit with derision, insult and disdain, the initial wrangle of two flatly unfamiliar couples are reflecting everyone's customary procedure of dealing with strangers, the approach of eclipsing others in a restrained manner in order not to break a fragile bottom line â Expand
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6
SirEddieCookJan 16, 2012
Carnage should have gotten meaner. Essentially a One Act play, the film features some fun acting in what is a black comedy, a bit of a critique of hypocrisy from Roman Polanski to the modern United States Culture that has banished him. JodieCarnage should have gotten meaner. Essentially a One Act play, the film features some fun acting in what is a black comedy, a bit of a critique of hypocrisy from Roman Polanski to the modern United States Culture that has banished him. Jodie Foster goes for the extreme the most, and comes away with the best of the 4 main performances. Instead of going for a War of the Roses level of domestic extremes, it's really a Virginia Woolf/Breakfast Club type movie where we aren't left with any major revelations, other than these are MISERABLE PEOPLE. It seemed like the actors had a great time making this movie, but not all of it came through on screen. Expand
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5
TVJerryJan 15, 2012
Two couples gather for a civilized discussion about an incident between their young sons. Before it's over, barriers drop and things get real. It's a strong cast (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christopher Waltz), but with theTwo couples gather for a civilized discussion about an incident between their young sons. Before it's over, barriers drop and things get real. It's a strong cast (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christopher Waltz), but with the exception of Reilly, they aren't known for their comic chops (and neither is director Roman Polanski). Making it worse, the script isn't funny. The film starts with promise and potential, but never escalates to outrageous or deteriorates to dull. It stays at the same, uninspired level of energetic ennui. Expand
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9
Tazmania32Jan 7, 2012
This film was just hilarious. The only gripe I had was that it was too short. Each character: Foster, Winslet, Waltz, and Reilly were amazing. Yay for a movie that has excellent dialogue and doing more with less.
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9
mariopingDec 30, 2011
What an entertaining film! The 4 actors make the film good. It seems that they had fun making it too. For a movie that is set entirely in one apartment for 80 minutes, it's quite an achievement to keep the audience entertained throughout. IWhat an entertaining film! The 4 actors make the film good. It seems that they had fun making it too. For a movie that is set entirely in one apartment for 80 minutes, it's quite an achievement to keep the audience entertained throughout. I found myself laughing out loud a few times. At the end of the regular screening, a few people in the audience applauded.

If I can be bold and rank the 4 actors, I would rank as follow: 1. Christoph Waltz -- a very cool but hilarious performance. To me, it's not easy to play cool and calm but make us feel that he's the funniest guy.
2. John C. Reilly -- he plays the every day ordinary husband to perfection.
3. Jodie Foster -- she does neurotic well. 4. Kate Winslet -- she plays neurotic second to Jodie.
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6
lahaineDec 23, 2011
I'm surprised this didn't get better reviews from critics, as it was very entertaining. Carnage is a small movie that runs in real time, and only consists of four characters in an new york apartment. All this works well, thanks to its freshI'm surprised this didn't get better reviews from critics, as it was very entertaining. Carnage is a small movie that runs in real time, and only consists of four characters in an new york apartment. All this works well, thanks to its fresh and witty screenplay, and primal performances from our four principles: Winslet, Foster, Riley and Waltz. Christoph Waltz was probably the finest of the bunch, maintaining a chilly, aloof demeanor while the others slip into disarray. Jodie Foster gave a slightly exaggerated performance, but overall they were all fun. The abrupt ending did some serious damage to the overall movie, but its epilogue saved it. Expand
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3
MorriBeyDec 21, 2011
Its embarrassing. It fails dismally. I can see how it could have worked as a play but unlike say , the importance of being earnest, its fails horribly in the movie version. The jovial twists and turns of the play do not work on the screen version.
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8
CazatuzDec 16, 2011
Im surprise Its getting Mixed ratings. This movie was actually pretty good. I like the dialog & acting was pretty great also. The script was a bit juvenile at times but it was actually able to keep my attention all the way through & thisIm surprise Its getting Mixed ratings. This movie was actually pretty good. I like the dialog & acting was pretty great also. The script was a bit juvenile at times but it was actually able to keep my attention all the way through & this typically wouldnt be the type of movie I'd go for. It reminded me a lot of phone-booth only this is like the House Arrest version lol. I kept waiting for them to just leave but it never happens lol. I thought the whole concept (& message) was pretty cool also & it was very easy to follow; it even made me laugh at times! I was utterly shocked when the movie was over because it literally felt like only 40 mins long. Its not to be taken seriously though, I would probably give it a 7 because I liked the concept & the overall message so much 8. Expand
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7
wishmasterDec 16, 2011
script, cast and especially powerful dialogues that make this movie amazing, this movie proves that you do not have a thousand extras and actors to do something flashy and entertaining.
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