Wednesday 8 February 2012

THE KID Versus MARIA: Rating The Acting Performances In Roman Polanski's 'CARNAGE'

I watched "CARNAGE" at 2.30pm. Thirty minutes before that, somewhere else in the country, my friend MARIA started watching it too. We promised to chat about it afterwards -- but instead, I called her up and said "Rate the acting performances from best to worst, and write a bit about them. I'll throw it on the blog." She wrote her views and I wrote mine. Coincidentally, our rankings were the same, and our views were pretty similar too. 


MARIA – is just cool, isn’t he? Every role he plays, he inhabits effortlessly. And in ‘Carnage’ his performance as Alan Cowan is just effortless. But perhaps this ease is simply the result of the writing, as his character is the only one who does not go on much of an emotional journey, if at all, throughout the course of the film. He is the constant. He knows who he is, and what he believes, and he’s ok with that. And for that reason, he comes across as the most believable and relatable of the four.

THE KID - Waltz was amazing in this - by far the best performance. May sound weird of me to say this -- but I even felt like he was channelling a bit of Woody Allen in his performance. It was comedic, yet subtle and nuanced -- and, yeah, he seemed like a subdued Woody Allen-esque character. Not sure anyone else will see that in the performance, but I did!

He was, for me, definitely the best actor in it -- he is definitely helped by the character that was written for him, as it's by far the most interesting.


THE KID - I think it's fair to say the material was skewed in favour of the men -- they got the funnier lines. When the two guys started siding with each other, drinking and smoking, it was hilarious -- probably because it was so realistic.

Reilly is often much better than the material he works with. Here, it fit him just right -- he could be down to Earth and normal one minute, and hilarious the next. He manages to be funny without being funny. What do I mean by that? When you see Sandler or Carrey doing comedy, it jumps out at you. Reilly is just kind of inherently funny. He coaxes the humour off the page without having to do too much.

MARIA - Ok, I may be biased here as I adore John C. Reilly as an actor and his performance in ‘Chicago’ will forever remain in my mind. But watching him turn from this lovable, peace maker into a somewhat unlikeable character was fantastic. The switch that was called for from the script is a hard one to pull off for most actors. He played the subtext so well that he pulled off the sudden switch in the dialogue with ease. The mask was dropped and the REAL Michael Longstreet was revealed. Well done John. Well done. (slow clap).


MARIA - I love watching this woman try to pull off an American accent. She does it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always on the verge of slipping right back into RP and the anticipation keeps me on the edge of my seat. And watching her play drunk… Well, you can tell she’s a Brit. She does it so well you know she’s practised many a time. I found my focus rested mainly on her character, Nancy Cowan, because you knew eventually she was going to crack and when she did it was beautiful and believable.

THE KID - I was bored by her for many parts of the film and, in fact, there were times when I thought she wasn't very good at all -- I could see the acting. I guess she can't be incredible all the time. That being said, towards the end, when she was finally called upon to do something interesting, she excelled. Her drunken behaviour and shouting got the biggest laughs of the movie. When Winslet is great, I don't think there are many in her league. In 'Carnage', she's not great, at least not for all of it.


THE KID - This is probably the worst I've ever seen her. For one, the character was repugnant, but that wasn't even the problem. I just didn't believe what I was seeing whenever Foster did her thing. It wasn't real, I couldn't buy into it. You know who they should have cast? Helen Hunt. She'd have been PERFECT. She'd have pulled off the righteousness and the anger, while still being human. Foster was miscast, and as a result, struggled massively.

MARIA - I was not a fan. BUT…perhaps that’s because I hated her character so much I wanted to throw something at the screen at times. But all in all, I felt like she was trying WAY too hard. I couldn’t relate to or care about her character in the least. That said she did a good job of amping up the drama in a rather simple story. I’m sorry I can’t say more about her performance. Unfortunately that’s acting for you. If the audience doesn’t like your character they’re usually going to go away thinking you didn’t do a great job. But if all you try to do is play lovable characters you’re going to have a boring career and probably won’t ever become a great actor. So well done Jodie on not being afraid to be disliked.

Care to share?


  1. I love how the discussion on this has turned into ranking the actors. The movie is a bit strange on how it boils down to nothingness, but I think that's what makes it work - showing how the human inclinations at, their root, are so insipid and silly. For me it's Winslet then Waltz then Reilly then Foster. But, I think they all do fairly good work.

  2. I love how you invited your friend to join in on your post. It was fun to read both opinions and see how they were similar and how they differed.
    It's too bad that Jodi Foster didn't live up to what we've come to expect from her. Playing a "bad guy" is such an interesting thing. When it's done well, I find myself rooting for the bad guy almost as much as I am rooting for the good guy.