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Venice Reviews of Carnage Have Jodie Foster Coming Out On Top of Polanski's Actors Showcase

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood September 1, 2011 at 5:46AM

Reviews have landed for Roman Polanski's Carnage, playing at the Venice Film Festival. Here's our report on Day Two (including W.E. and Carnage reviews). Polanski's film is an adaptation of Yasmena Reza's popular French play, God of Carnage, which most recently played at Los Angeles' Ahmanson theater with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. That's a stellar cast to top. The difference here is that Polanski's equally impressive cast of Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly shot the play on film (though it's not necessarily very cinematic), and were stuck in an apartment in Paris made to look like New York instead of on a stage. Read the buzz and trailer below. SPC will release the film December 16.
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Reviews have landed for Roman Polanski's Carnage, playing at the Venice Film Festival. Here's our report on Day Two (including W.E. and Carnage reviews). Polanski's film is an adaptation of Yasmena Reza's popular French play, God of Carnage, which most recently played at Los Angeles' Ahmanson theater with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden. That's a stellar cast to top. The difference here is that Polanski's equally impressive cast of Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly shot the play on film (though it's not necessarily very cinematic), and were stuck in an apartment in Paris made to look like New York instead of on a stage. Read the buzz and trailer below. SPC will release the film December 16.

Thompson on Hollywood

ThePlaylist gives it a C+ as

"a film of very little ambition, a minor entry in the director’s canon. Perhaps it was just the desire to shoot something fast and quick after his brush with justice, which is certainly understandable, but he has essentially taken a pre-existing script, cast four A-listers, locked them in a room, and shot it. There are few directorial flourishes beyond a firmly Polanski-esque opening shot, and almost nothing to enable the identification of the movie as a Polanski picture; for once in his career, it feels like almost anyone could have directed it." They dub Jodie Foster is the highlight and Winslet the weakest link (that could be said of the play's character, too).

David Gritten gives kudos to:

"Waltz, as the rudest man in the room, gets the best lines. It’s well-acted and giddily enjoyable, if slightly less so once the characters start to analyse their descent into barbarism."

This Is London says Foster gives a "wicked, Oscar-worthy comic performance":

"Little attempt is made to disguise the fact that this is the film of a play. And the dramatic gears grind a little during certain shifts of allegiance along couple and gender lines. But making the audience feel claustrophobic is central to Carnage's method: we're penned in, unable to leave this airless apartment,..The film also celebrates an old-fashioned, underrated cinematic pleasure: the chance to see an ensemble cast of fine actors sparring with each other, and at the top of their game."

THR's Todd McCarthy says the cast "holds its own," but a la The Pianist or Rosemary's Baby:

"Polanski has often been at his best in close quarters,..so it should be no surprise that he's right at home examining the venality of the human condition in the living room of the Brooklyn apartment that serves as the setting for Carnage. Snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old,..fully delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece while entirely convincing as having been shot in New York, even though it was filmed in Paris for well-known reasons."

[Carnage wrap party image courtesy of TheLostBoy]

This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Reviews, Jodie Foster


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.