Monday, January 16, 2012
Carnage, by contrast, is a bad movie. This is not just because the two middle-aged bourgeois couples (Kate Winslet/Christoph Waltz and Jodie Foster/John C. Reilly) who meet in the aftermath of their sons' scuffle on a playground are repellent people. Rather it's because the scenario we're given just seems implausible. Given the emerging frictions that emerge in their discussions at the Brooklyn apartment of Foster/Reilly, there's no way these people would remain in each other's company for the interminable 80 or so minutes that they do. Nor are Foster and Reilly believable as a married couple (she's writes about antiquities and genocide; he owns a cookware supply company). The actors are all terrific; Foster in particular combines sanctimony, rage, and self-pity all too plausibly. In recent years she's spent a good deal of time playing unpleasant and/or weak people, demonstrating a sense of reach that's admirable, even though it's paid poor box office dividends (The Rabbit, anyone?). But here her work is in the service of a script (based on the Broadway play) and a director (Roman Polanski) whose determination to undermine elite pretensions is itself undermined by such thoroughgoing misanthropy -- and, perhaps, misogyny -- that one is less repelled by the critique of social convention than the commentary itself.
Best at a time like this to remember another child of a different (black) elite who marshalled his gifts in the name of compassion. Happy 83rd, MLK.