Friday, August 19, 2011
Confession time: I really wasn't a big fan of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, a play that that earned raves on Broadway and won Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actress (Marcia Gay Harden) and Best Actor (James Gandolfini). It's essentially a bottle story, where two couples try and sort out a fight that happened between their children on a playground. The premise is rife with possibilities for explosive drama and comedy, but Reza's script (originally in French) always felt like it lost something in translation. I laughed at the production I saw (which had the second run of cast members, including Christine Lahti and Jimmy Smitts), but I always felt like I was straining. Some exchanges and quips were funny, but they also came off as hollow and unsatisfying. Throw in that ridiculous vomit gag, and I wasn't exactly impressed.
And even though I have hope that Roman Polanski and his amazing cast will be able to create a more satisfying end result, the trailer hasn't boosted my hopes much. Foster, Waltz, and Winslet seem like they're trying their hardest, while poor John C. Reilly is stuck with the story's weakest role. All that Polanski has done, if this trailer is any indication, is give us exactly the same product but with close-ups and more detailed sets. Whatever mix of intensity and pitch-black comedy the footage is trying to get across isn't really coming through. Instead, this looks all too much like the play: an attempt to subvert middle class personalities that isn't nearly as smart or incisive as it wants us to believe.