Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Film of the week: Carnage. The fight of the Oscars: Foster vs Winslet

Carnage (directed by Roman Polanski, USA, 2011). Witty Dahl-esque comedy.

Still of Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in Carnage – © 2011 – Sony Pictures Classics

Two kids have an argument and one of them hits another on the face with a stick. The victim’s parents meet with the offender’s progenitors for a little discussion. And there the fun begins…

Do we have a tendency of blowing things out of proportion? Do we tend to exaggerate small things and to fail to see the big picture, to generalize and miss the important details? Do we ever cover up our selfish urges by making them sound altruistic and communal?

Jodie Foster’s character Penelope does that a lot. I have mixed feelings about her. I’m sympathetic with her intellectual aspirations and ideals, but I can’t sympathize with how poorly she copes with her unintellectual partner, living with whom was her free choice.

It is bizarre that intelligent Penelope is so judgmental about people. She calls an 11year old kid a criminal (without knowing what has actually happened between the kids) and his mother Nancy, whom she just met, – fake. To justify this last insult Penelope boasts to be a see-through person, which is clearly a non-sense, since a person with a profound knowledge of human psychology is more likely to be more understanding and less swayed by negative emotions.

Penelope is a pseudo-intellectual, because she does not applies her knowledge to herself and her family. She thinks that everyone should be, think and behave like herself, because it is the right way. She doesn’t want to accept any other opinion she would instantly label as savage or stupid.

Still of Kate Winslet in Carnage – © 2011 – Sony Pictures Classics

Nancy who is portrayed by Kate Winslet is lot more like likable. First, she tries to be civil (not fake), and then she clearly slips into immaturity. Like a clumsy drunk teenager Nancy even throws up over Penelope’s precious art books. On the other hand, she is a patient woman with good instincts, who wants things to be nice and just. So, when she finds out that Penelope’s husband has left his daughter’s hamster outside on the street for good, Nancy’s inner child announces the war.

As a little bit of booze is being poured  the foursome’s arguments transform into family disputes and gender conflict.

The film is based on a French play The God of Carnage, which definitely has its revival on the screen. I enjoyed the film so much; thanks to the Penelope character I saw some of the arrogant notes in myself that require to be fixed. Poor Penelope, she can’t weed out these things from her character maybe because as she admits it herself she doesn’t have a sense of humour. Shame.

I would rename the play into “The Goddess of Carnage”. Only joking.


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