Play-based adaptations are always a shot in the dark. Will the confined spaces feel claustrophobically creepy or unbearably static? Will the yelling monologues seem intimidating or stilted?


Sony Pictures Classics

There’s always a fine line between the tense and the facetiously comical — and the risk one takes when embarking on such a journey is only heightened when that baseline was originally performed on the stage by the lovely Hope Davis.

Luckily, the man who helms “Carnage” — the film version of the wildly successful play “God of Carnage” — is none other than the (dis)reputable Roman Polanski (“The Ghost Writer”), the only man working in Hollywood whose impressive oeuvre overshadows his seedy personal life. Polanski may have done sordid things in the past, but many filmgoers are willing to ignore them because his filmic repertoire is so damn good.

Not to mention the cast of “Carnage” is one made of diamonds. Picture this: the British inflections of Kate Winslet (“The Reader”) paired with the wolfish grin of Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”), and the straight-laced Jodie Foster (“The Beaver”) linking arms with the furrowed brow of John C. Reilly (“Cyrus”). Four heavyweights throwing down wobbly insults about their children in a swanktastic New York apartment. Drama, drool and throw-up abound. Delicious.

Yeah, there’s always a chance this thing could fall through. Maybe all the best lines in the film have already been given away in the trailer. Maybe the chemistry just doesn’t gel. But when there’s a risk involved, there’s sometimes a big payoff. And “Carnage” could potentially be that payoff.

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