Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
We're looking for reporters for the LFF
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Jodie Foster
Kate Winslet
Christoph Waltz
John C. Reilly.
Roman Polanski.
Yasmina Reza
Roman Polanski.
Running Time
79 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Nightmare, The
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating

The civil war

submit to reddit

After their two 11 year-old sons fight in a local park, a quartet of well-heeled Brooklynites gather in one of their apartments to discuss the issue. But their veneer of civility is soon torn to shreds as the participants descend into an orgy of recrimination, murdered mobiles and puked-on art catalogues.

Browse more images »
With the exception of the opening and closing titles, we spend the whole of Roman Polanski’s pacy, irresistibly malicious adaptation of Yasmin Reza’s hit play God Of Carnage in a single, slightly cramped New York apartment and in the company of only four characters. Genius production designer Dean Tavoularis, who built the flat on a Paris soundstage — a result of Polanski’s well-known legal issues — has delivered a masterpiece of upper-middle-class taste and refinement: the walls are just the right shade of eggshell, art books decorate the pine coffee tables, a tasteful flower arrangement sits in the middle of the room. But all too soon we realise that this apartment is more of a cage, and we are to witness the most entertainingly vicious, exuberantly acted, emotional punch-up since Abigail threw her party.

Castwise this is pure bliss. Kate Winslet is initially nervy and soon hysterical as “wealth-manager” Nancy; Jodie Foster’s academic African specialist’s already brittle visage twists into a mask of hatred when her impeccably liberal values are challenged, while John C. Reilly looks suitably uncomfortable as her blue-collar husband Michael, a plumbing salesman forced into middle-class attire and attitudes by his wife (he freely admits to the disgust of almost everyone present to have just flung his son’s pet hamster out on the street “like a common sewer rat”). But it’s Christoph Waltz as corporate legal flack Alan, who spends much of the movie on his ill-fated BlackBerry advising a pharmaceuticals company that is selling dodgy pills to hold tight, on whom Polanski lavishes his best lines and obvious intellectual sympathy. The overall effect as these gargoyles collide in the fading autumn sunlight is like early Neil Simon but shot through with ripples of acid contempt.

Towards the end, though, a fifth character makes a brief appearance. The next-door neighbour opens their door a crack to see what all the shouting is about. A patch of old-man stubble is visible, a baleful eye peers at these overgrown Lords Of The Flies, and Roman Polanski slowly closes the door in disgust. His task is complete: the bourgeoisie hasn’t been this gleefully épatered since Buñuel.

A quartet of pitch-perfect performances from a cast uniformly at its career best, together with a director on shockingly mischievous top form, this is a shot of pure, exhilarating cinematic malice. And if nothing else, it contains the most surprising puking sequence since Monsieur Creosote.

Reviewed by Adam Smith

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Carnage
Empire Star Rating

Intense And Amusing, But Somewhat Lacking In Meaning

For the entire running time of Carnage, I was either chuckling appreciatively or savoring Polanski's piece of organized chaos in the form of its' scriptwriting, which is undeniably excellent. The premise of the film is also interesting and for the whole of the duration the cast does excellent jobs (with the surprising occasional exception from Winslet, who more than once grossly underplays/overplays her character). I'm not sure how it could have been more interesting with the plot remaining the ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:10, 28 June 2012 | Report This Post


One of the best movies of 2011. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bereski at 20:19, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Carnage

Saw this right back at the start of December. Was very good. Funny, and the performances were fantastic. ... More

Posted by nhassell at 15:52, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Carnage

Saw this right back at the start of December. Was very good. Funny, and the performances were fantastic. ... More

Posted by nhassell at 15:52, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Carnage

Excellent film, slick script, perfect timing, impeccably acted (Jodie Foster was probably the weak link but the other 3 carried her through) and a hilarious ending sequence which puts the whole film in perspective. I would argue though, that the fifth star of the film is the Blackberry..... ... More

Posted by narmour at 09:47, 08 February 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Carnage

Pretty good film this one. Very good performances from the four stars (irrational hatred of Winslet aside ) in portraying the thin veneer of middle class civility wiped away by some scotch and a few annoying phone calls. Worth a watch, but it could've done with being longer and having a deeper exposure of the parents where it pulled back towards the end. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spamandham at 15:57, 05 February 2012 | Report This Post

Liked it...

but I feel that it's wrong to give praise to a film made by an absconding rapist. Great performances mind. Albeit, Foster gives it a bit too much. Waltz is class. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 20:12, 04 February 2012 | Report This Post

I really think Kate Winslet is the single most overated actress of our time. Everytime I see her "act" , all i see is her stint in casualty and the trailer for Carnage is NO better. The bit where she spits out about her son kicking the shit out of the other couple's son is so unbelieveably hammy. Horrd, fake lovie.. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by C3 at 04:07, 01 February 2012 | Report This Post

Tomorrowland's Secrets Revealed
Brad Bird gives us an exclusive viewing guide

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

Hallowed Ground: Folk Horror In British Film
Ten tales from our island's dark past

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)