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A Brooklyn Cul-de-Sac

MOVIE REVIEW
Carnage (2011)

Carnage-jodie-foster-kate-winslet-john-c-reilly-christoph-waltz
Guy Ferrandis/Sony Pictures Classics

Roman Polanski hasn’t been to Brooklyn in more than three decades, and it shows. Just as almost everything about “The Ghost Writer” was pitch-perfect, almost everything about “Carnage” is misguided. Mr. Polanski’s first big mistake was to set his adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage” — about two couples attempting to settle their children’s fight — in Brooklyn, and it only went downhill from there. It could have certainly been set anywhere: The play premiered in Zurich in 2006, and was subsequently staged in Paris with Isabelle Huppert and in London’s West End with Ralph Fiennes before an Americanized version hit Broadway in 2009. It’s too bad Mr. Polanski did not have the good sense to pick a place he knows a thing or two about.

His next mistake was casting Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. This cast might rack up a nomination or four among them at the next Academy Awards, but still. Mr. Reilly rings completely false as the blue-collar hardware salesman Michael. It would have only made sense to cast someone like James Gandolfini, who played the role on Broadway. Mr. Reilly did not even attempt the Brooklyn accent that should be requisite for this role. Additionally, Ms. Winslet is way too young as Nancy. There is just no way an affluent young trophy wife like her would be caught dead in Brooklyn. Hope Davis, who had the role on Broadway, also made much more sense because there was less of an age gap between her and her stage spouse Jeff Daniels.

The apartment where the film takes place is also ridiculously wrong. This being Michael’s home, one would expect it to be tatty and crummy. Instead, it’s bright and modern like a model home. Franckie Diago’s set decoration and Pawel Edelman’s cinematography also make the film look as lovely as possible, which only makes matters worse. Ultimately, “Carnage” is just another in a long line of improbable movie depictions of New York as seen in “Sex and the City” and other such drivel.

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