Opening 24 Nov 2011
Nancy and Alan Cowen (Kate Winslet and Christoph Walz) have come to Penelope and Michael’s (Jodie Foster and John C.Reilly) NYC apartment to settle a playground dispute between their pre-teen boys. The Cowen’s son has hit the other boy, bruised his face and broken two teeth. While Penelope would love to have this acknowledged as ‘carnage’, the carnage is actually taking place right here and now in their living room. While trying to establish how their kids should deal with the incident in a civilized manner, their civility falls off rapidly. Alan and Penelope have taken an instant dislike to each other, but it will take surprisingly little time for all of them to loose their cool; loyalties are called off, alliances shift. Numerous opportunities are being missed to end the Cowen’s visit. As if bedevilled one of them always manages to prolong the ordeal.
The film – with a script (Yasmina Reza and Roman Polanski) based on a play by Yasmina Reza, a wonderful cast under Roman Polanski’s impeccable direction and a marvelous set (Dean Tavoularis) – is even more enjoyable than the stage version. From the proverbial hole-in-the-wall we follow the hilarious battles, ‘gut-reactions’ (Winslet), tears and tantrums (director of photography Pawel Edelman). The amusing scene at the very end (Polanski reincarnated in a cameo?!) – is only possible on film and puts everything back in perspective. (Carola A)