Carnage is Roman Polanski's caricature of the modern life. The movie, save for a couple of scenes, takes place within a house. There isn't much of a plot in this movie, it is the characters who shine through. The film is as such simple and humorous in a dark fashion.
The setting is provided by a fight between 2 kids. Their parents - Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C Reilly) as well as Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) - meet up to discuss what they need to do about their children's fight. Alan is a high flying lawyer whereas Michael is a "mediocre" salesman. Penelope is the "liberal" type and Nancy tries to be mature and conciliatory. The discussion that the four have veers away from the children and offers us a perspective into the lives of these individuals. Alan is wedded to his work and his cellphone, frequently interrupting the conversation to take calls. Nancy is fed up with this behaviour. Penelope has strong ideas about being civilized and does not like or understand violence. Michael tries his best to conciliate and bring about an understanding between the couples. Things slowly start degenerating and the conversation takes a turn for the worse when Nancy vomits.
The direct and brutal Alan can't stand the almost naive point of view of Penelope. While Alan maintains that kids will be kids, Penelope talks about understanding and violence. Michael is fed up of trying to be conciliatory and blows his top. He provides his (excellent) Scotch to Alan and they start agreeing with each other. The otherwise cool and calm Alan's weakness is reveled when the drunk Nancy drops Alan's phone on water. Alan is distraught with his non-functioning "toy", as Nancy puts it. As the credits roll the boys, who started off all this trouble, are shown to have re-conciliated and become friends.
The movie is adapted from the play "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, who co-wrote the screenplay along with Polanski. The simple setting provides ample room for the characters to display themselves to the viewer. Their absurdities and follies are held up for view and we see glimpses of what is wrong with our society. You will likely relate to one of the characters. The actors are superb, offering performances which are sublime. Christoph's beautiful essaying of Alan proves that Hans Landa was not a flash in the pan. Jodie Foster's portrayal of the liberal, and towards the end hysterical, Nancy is brilliant. This is one of Reilly's more outstanding roles and neither does Kate Winslet let us down.
Worth the watch.