Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Is there anyone else who didn’t enjoy Polanski’s last movie Carnage?
Everywhere I read I find people very enthusiastic about it. Honestly I still haven’t seen a less than 4 stars review, which makes me arrive to two conclusions. One, my aesthetic taste surprisingly doesn’t really correspond to the majority’s one. Two, there is no point of return for a press completely sold to the mainstream’s fame and interests.

I’m usually a Polanski’s big fan, his acting in The Tenant will persist in my mind forever and Rosemary’s Baby will always attract and magically repulse me at the same time. Ask me to watch it again and I won’t ever be able to say no, ready for fear and uneasiness to constantly populate my dreams though.
But not this time. I overtly say I didn’t like the movie.
Carnage is a very expressionist word, it gives me the idea of a slaughterhouse, where the animal materiality stands in front of your eyes so powerfully that makes the thought of anything else unnecessary.
The flesh is the link with probably the only cameo I really liked in this 80 minutes long movie.
Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet, the mothers of two kids involved in a childish fight, stand in front of a Francis Bacon catalogue and the latter pronounces the most splendid sentences of the entire movie:
“Francis Bacon. Cruelty and splendour, chaos and balance”. 

The carnage I’m talking about is the one Bacon paints in his works. Raw human flesh that keeps trying (in vain though) to share something meaningful with its similar creatures (in the privacy of the same closed room by the way).
The same carnage Luis Bunuel puts up in
The Exterminator Angel, where, like in Polanski’s movie, the guests of a formal dinner party, all in their bourgeois clothes and behaviours, end up unable to leave the room as in a sort of hypnotic trance.
This is exactly what happens in Carnage: two couples (Jodie Foster/John C.Reilly and Kate Winslet/Christoph Waltz) meet up in Foster and Reilly’s Brooklyn apartment to sort their son’s childish behaviours out. From a grown up and adult point of view, they want to (pretend to) find the good out of the bad situation and solve the problem. After few drinks Kate Winslet gets sick and throwing up she dirties the coffee-table with Foster’s art precious art catalogue on it. 
From here the situation degenerates and unmasks the bourgeois attachment to formalities and standardized behaviours.
Starting with a very good plot, the movie doesn’t present a crescendo of allure and the brilliantly comic idea of a kid that breaks one of his peers tooth, involving parent’s preoccupations and different points of view on the gravity of the event, dies in its potentiality even before being realized.
The movie is a stage of clichés. This is probably Polanski aim, he wants to make us laugh with bitterish smiles in front of the upper middle class universe. The same universe Carnage’s audience is more or less part of.
Fine. If this is the director’s purpose, it’s anyway not well achieved both in terms of screenplay and aesthetic composition.
The characters are just parodies of them selves, they endlessly repeat what they are supposed to say, ending up being very predictable and in so doing boring.
I would save just Christoph Waltz who appears to be a more prismatic and truly ironic individual, although he plays all movie long with his Blackberry as he’s an important business man.

The entire set, the apartment, does succeeds in reflecting bourgeois standards but doesn’t really seem to be vital for the story, coffee table and art catalogue aside. Characters don’t really interact with it as it would probably had been necessary, since the movie is all about the idea and its consequences of being stuck in the same place for a while.
This is not the first time Polanski decides to force its protagonists in one place. Remember
The Knife in the water, where a thrilling ménage a trios takes place in a boat and the castle in the nearly-inaccessible island of Cul De Sac.
I guess the weak point of the movie is its missed development. It would have had all the right ingredients for a 5 and more stars review, but it hasn’t been successful in evolving its potential structure.

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