‘Carnage’ descends to glorious chaos |This uncivil war is tense, nasty and toxic.

The Kansas City Star

Taut as a snare drum, Roman Polanski’s claustrophobic “Carnage” is a tightly wound piece of filmmaking that crackles with tension.

The movie is the fourth variation of playwright Yasmina Reza’s bleak comedy, but the premise remains the same: Two couples whose children have had a playground conflict meet in a Brooklyn apartment to come to an “understanding.”

Over the course of the next 78 minutes the underlying tension comes to the surface in various ways, as polite banter gives way to open hostility. Alliances seem to shift — at first it’s couple vs. couple, but after the Scotch starts flowing we see the women at odds with the men, or one character suddenly feeling a burst of admiration for someone he or she despises.

John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Cristoph Waltz, Kate Winslet

Using alcohol to allow characters to express their “true feelings” is a familiar device in plays and films, but nothing about “Carnage” seems trite. It hums with an immediacy that wouldn’t have been possible without an excellent cast.

As the film opens we witness from a distance the confrontation in a Brooklyn park as one boy hits another with a stick. We don’t know what it’s really about, but the incident is discussed in detail later.

Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly are Penelope and Michael Longstreet, the parents of the boy who lost a couple of teeth in the incident. Michael sells pots and pans for a living, and Penelope is working on a book about Darfur. Their opposite numbers are Alan and Nancy Cowan, a corporate attorney and an investment banker played by Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet. Read the complete review at kansascity.com.

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