Roman Polanski's CARNAGE at the NY Film Festival
Unable to come legally to the United States, Roman Polanski shot the film in Paris, although the Brooklyn setting of the story is maintained. As the two couples, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly play Penelope and Michael, and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz play Nancy and Alan. All the performances are first rate, and the script allows each actor more than one moment to shine in the spotlight. Ms. Foster, as the righteous, art-loving Penelope gives a performance of theatrical dimensions, at times verging on over the top histrionics. Kate Winslet, her American accent perfect as always, goes from sophisticated elegance to bitter drunkenness with convincing results. Christoph Waltz, playing her lawyer husband, a man more in tune with his Blackberry than with his own wife or son, has an air of detached ennui that fits the character perfectly. But perhaps the most satisfying of the quartet is Mr. Reilly, who slips into his role so effortlessly and convincingly that the performance is totally worthy of a well-deserved Academy Award.
Mr. Polanski is no stranger to filming in enclosed spaces. Repulsion (1965) showed us what he can do inside of a claustrophobic London flat as a schizophrenic Catherine Deneuve descends into madness. Two years later Rosemary's Baby (1968) explores how a dream Manhattan apartment can turn into a prison -- complete with next door witches and warlocks -- for Mia Farrow. Likewise, in this film, the Brooklyn apartment where all the action takes place, is not big enough to contain the emotions that erupt within it.
Once again, Roman Polanski gives us a film filled with ironies and unanswered questions, and in the process, puts us in the middle of a ride that will take us a long time to forget. At the heart of his latest work are four performances that will remain with us long after the last frame flickers on the screen.