France, Germany, Poland, Spain

Synopsis

The incident is both commonplace and shockingly savage: two kids, about eleven, in a showdown in a local park, one stronger and “armed with a stick,” has injured the other − blood and swollen lips and broken teeth. Now the parents of the “victim”, Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly), have invited the parents of the “bully”, Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz), to their apartment on the outer edge of Park Slope, Brooklyn, to sort it out. Penelope, a forward-thinking woman who is writing a book about the Darfur tragedy, would like to settle the matter in a civilized manner, without acrimony. Michael, who sells bathroom fixtures, Nancy, the seemingly demure financial advisor, and Alan, a busy lawyer whose cell phone never stops, would all like to honour Penelope’s good intentions. But not for exactly the same reasons and not at any price. Battle lines are constantly redrawn, until each in turn reveals what lies just beneath the surface. Riotously funny, deliciously wicked and just plain desperate, all four parents reveal their most fundamental contradictions on what will ultimately prove to be the worst day of their lives, a day of reckoning with the god of carnage.

Director's Statement

I first saw Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage” in the winter of 2008, in its original production at the Théâtre Antoine in Paris. The play made me laugh and impressed me no end. My desire to adapt it for the screen was born right then and there. It was the subject matter, first and foremost: I saw a stinging and very current critique of contemporary society in the relationship between these two couples. All in the manner that these urbane and well-behaved people, generally inclined to act in enlightened and forward-thinking ways, get inexorably off-track. The hypocrisy of “politically correct” is brought out with striking contrast and focus. Then there was the story-telling principle. I’ve always found it interesting to preserve the “real-time” aspect and I don’t remember seeing it used, straightforwardly and unpretentiously, in a film. Getting the length of the movie to correspond exactly to the situations and dialogue, without ellipses, is a logical challenge to take on in the context of my life’s work. I did not intend to film a play, but to make a film. Neither did I intend, like certain screen adaptations of theatrical works, to artificially “open up” the space. It extends all by itself into the other rooms of the apartment, on to the landing, down the hall to the elevator, and from there to various faraway glimpses of the city, but the film’s atmosphere nevertheless remains intimate, limited in space and time, a form which I have loved from the very beginning of my career. The film was shot entirely on the lot at Bry-sur-Marne, a perfect place and optimal conditions to concentrate on the work of the actors. With today’s technical means, great strides have been made in making what is shot in the studio look realistic and authentic, if only in the treatment of the backgrounds. I used green screen behind all the windows on the set, so that the skin of the genuine Brooklyn streets where the action takes place can be superimposed. These particular shooting conditions, in one unique, carefully drawn and transformable space allowed me to rehearse in situ with the actors Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly. It made it possible to really get to the bottom of each of the characters, to explore in detail where each one is keen or mad and to work on their individual rhythm. In short, a note to say that this film hopes to entertain even as it asks hard questions about our era.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Written by: Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza

Produced by: Oliver Berben, Piotr Reisch, Jaume Roures, Saïd Ben Saïd, Martin Moszkowicz

Cinematography: Pawel Edelman

Editing: Hervé de Luze

Production Design: Dean Tavoularis

Original Score: Alexandre Desplat

Main Cast: Christoph Waltz (Alan Cowan), John C. Reilly (Michael Longstreet), Kate Winslet (Nancy Cowan), Jodie Foster (Penelope Longstreet)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2012
  • European Screenwriter 2012
  • Feature Film Selection 2012