It's Day 2 at Venice, and we're continuing our review recaps of the big talkers at the festival. Next up is Roman Polanski's "Carnage," based on a play by Yasmina Reza, "God of Carnage." The film stars Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, and Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly, as husband and wife duos, respectively. The latter parents have Winslet and Waltz over to their New York apartment to sort out a conflict between their children. The film follows this civilized, adult conversation as it devolves into a barbaric display that would put their children to shame.
How do these four adults fare acting like five-year-olds? The critics have spoken. (Some gave their grades in stars or letters, but for those who didn't we've filled in the blanks.):
David Gritten at the Telegraph: "It's well-acted and giddily enjoyable, if slightly less so once the characters start to analyse their descent into barbarism." Grade: 3 out of 5 stars
Lee Marshall at the Evening Standard was pleased: Jodie Foster "gives a wicked, Oscar-worthy comic performance," and it's a "chance to see an ensemble cast of fine actors sparring with each other, and at the top of their game." Grade: B
The Playlist's Oliver Lyttelton: "The good news is that 'Carnage' is very, very funny... But it's also a film of very little ambition, a minor entry in the director's canon." He adds: "For this writer, it's Jodie Foster who was the highlight… 'Carnage' is a vital reminder of her talents." Grade: C+
Variety's Justin Chang: While the four actors deliver distinctive turns... the proceedings are somewhat dampened by the miscasting of one couple. Foster... nails Penelope's insufferable micro-managing and liberal do-gooder impulses, but the tightly wound actress doesn't bellow with the full-blooded authority the role requires. Reilly is almost too easily cast as Michael… Winslet assuredly charts Nancy's passive-aggressive journey from vulnerable to tetchy. But it's Waltz who gives the film's most delectable turn, in part because it's the most subdued." Grade: B-
Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter: "Roman Polanski's mastery of films within small spaces is evident... Overall, the thespian advantage would have to go to Broadway, but the cast here nonetheless holds its own and puts the characters across with force and definition." Grade: B
Guy Lodge of In Contention tweeted: "Loudly enjoyable, but straight-ahead film treatment magnifies play's slight pettiness. Poised, cunning Waltz far best in show." Grade: C+
Xan Brooks at the Guardian: "The film barely puts a foot wrong. The acting comes at full throttle while the pacing cranks up the tension in agonising, incremental degrees." Grade: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall critical score: B-
Decide for yourself when "Carnage" is released on Dec. 16 in the U.S.
WATCH the trailer for "Carnage":