Carnage briefly explores annihilation through verbal warfare, yet lacks ferocity. If ever there was an unsubstantial, menial and utterly short drama consisting of various arguments heightening in rage featuring a cast of white middle class parents, where the most exciting event is projectile vomiting over a catalogue of pretentious art books, well this may just be the one to tickle your tulips. The drama is often tantalising and Polanski never loses focus, yet it falls into the trap of adapting a stage show without fully utilising a cinematic approach to further the chaos. After their sons have a fight in the school playground, the parents decide to work out their issues by conversing about the situation, which rapidly turns into a heated argument where everything is off the cards.
Idiosyncrasies taking control of the situation, allowing these parents to exhume a plethora of emotions that turn a civilised environment into a chaotic plight. The beautiful disarray of conservative materialism stems from co-writer Reza's sharp dialogue, replicating the same wit from her Tony award-winning stage show, complimenting the fluid approach that Polanski consistently controls throughout the minuscule runtime. Whether it be menially arguing about the release of a pet hamster or divulging in marital woes, the screenplay offers a multifaceted opportunity for the cast involved. Foster and Waltz rising above the rest with effortless emotional transitions as the more flippant personalities, whilst Winslet and Reilly showcase the colossal change in anger throughout the course of the conversation.
Alas, adapting a claustrophobic domestic dispute onto the big screen was rarely going to venture into exciting territories. The lack of cinematic flair consequently reduced the ferocity that made the stage show so profound and captivating. A distinct absence of direct involvement, one which could easily be conjured up during a theatre production, resulted in a myriad of arguments that we ourselves cannot enter. And that essentially renders the heated conversations as a routinely affair with no real fire. Before you know it, the parents have duked it out for just over an hour and the drama simply concludes with the credits rolling, leaving you wondering to yourself "what am I going to take away from this experience?".
So despite the meaty performances, astute writing (that actually did make me snigger once or twice) and fluid direction, 'Le Dieu du carnage' is a show that is best seen on stage. Not necessarily a bad drama, just one that does not suit the medium of film.