Guy Ferrandis / Sony Pictures Classics (67130883.gif )
In "Carnage," the film adaptation of the award-winning play "God of Carnage," two couples gather to discuss an altercation their sons have had, in which one boy injured the other with a stick. Virtually all the action takes place in the living room of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (played by John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster, who received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance) as they go over the incident with Alan and Nancy Cowan (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet, who also earned a Globe nod).
But in 80 minutes of real-time conversation, the couples' initial facade of cordiality and civility, of "community," as Penelope would stress, not only crumbles, it shatters and sends flying shards of brittle accusations across the room. The film's tagline — "a new comedy of no manners"— doesn't go nearly far enough as the two couples go at each other (was the Cowans' son "armed" with a stick or "carrying" a stick?). But the daggers don't stop there. Soon enough, all manner of shifting alliances and criticisms begins to take form. It's an intense, claustrophobic — and funny— experience that no living room should have to endure. Here's a look at the highlights.
1. The door through which the Cowans make three failed attempts to leave.
2. The entry table where Alan Cowan, a lawyer dealing with a potential drug recall, sits to take the first of what will be 10 cellphone calls during their visit. Reilly has said he is surprised by how affronted audiences are at Alan's perching there.
3. The coffee table where Penelope's apple-pear cobbler (with the secret ingredient, gingerbread crumbs) is served.
4. The tulips from the florist up by Henry, all the way up — $20 for the whole bunch — do you know it?
5. The bar where Alan takes his second of 10 calls — and the apple-pear cobbler.
6. The apple-pear cobbler makes an unexpected reappearance courtesy of Nancy's upset stomach all over the irreplaceable Kokoschka ("The Kokoschka!"), "a reprint of the catalog from the 1957 show in London." Wiping, blow drying and cologne spritzing follow.
7. The water-filled vase and scene of an attempted cell-icide as Nancy vents her anger over Alan's constant phone calls.
8. The bookshelf where Alan collapses in despair after the attack on his phone, "My whole life was in there!" Michael wields the blow-dryer again.
9. The floor where Penelope has thrown Nancy's purse in a rage, spilling all its contents.
10. The floor where the "stupid" tulips wind up in shreds after Nancy vents her renewed anger.