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Carnage [Blu-Ray]

Roman Polanski

Carnage [Blu-Ray]
Though based on Yazmina Reza's decidedly more language-specific French play, Le Dieu de carnage, there's specificity to Roman Polanski's vision and interpretation of the text that makes it something more than merely a filmed play. Primarily the actual plot, wherein married professionals Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) visit the home of Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) after their children are involved in a schoolyard confrontation, could be projected onto any variety of social scenarios, be them intimately passive-aggressive or of global importance. Everything starts out cordial enough, with biases masked via the upholding of social customs and politeness, but gradually devolves when ideals are put to the test. Each character is confronted with criticism of their core values and morality through initially veiled comments and perceived social modes of impropriety. Alan's frequent cellphone use contradicts Penelope's rigid perception of social etiquette, much like Penelope's sanctimonious ownership of worldly plights unrelated to her reality irritates Nancy's sense of practical realism. Eventually the snarky comments come out, as does the parents' defending of their children once fingers start to assign individual blame without considering both angles. The impetus is one of implicit human solipsism and the arbitrary sense of superiority we have even in the face of our hypocrisy. It's something that Polanski has brought alive through the filming of each single-location conversation from discomforting, often candid angles, capturing the awkwardness and absurdity of the entire scenario. And what's more is that even the casting choices project additional layers onto the text, given that Reilly and Foster's (both American actors) characters are meant to be more comfortable in their home environment, while their guests (both European actors) have the visitors' disadvantage. It's a remarkable dynamic conveyed by a group of actors fully invested in their individual roles. This is something discussed on the brief "Actor's Notes" Blu-Ray supplement, where each actor discusses what it was like to work with Polanski and shoot in sequence. Also included as a BR supplement is "An Evening with John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz," where they're visibly stoned and make uncomfortable jokes. (Sony)
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