A first look at Roman Polanski’s ‘Carnage’


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Roman Polanski’s ‘Carnage’ will have its world premiere in a few weeks at the Venice Film Festival and will open in the U.S. in December, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. (It’s also the opening selection of this year’s New York Film Festival.) The movie, adapted from the Tony-winning play ‘God of Carnage’ by Yasmina Reza, is a dark comedy about two parental couples who meet after one of their sons strikes another on the playground.

Here’s a first trailer of the film (warning: adult language), which stars Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet. The original Broadway cast featured Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis. (The stage cast reprised their roles at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles earlier this year.)


Polanski had been working on the screenplay with Reza while he was under house arrest in 2010 in Switzerland, according to an interview with his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, in Elle.

Here are a few interesting points about the movie version, as gleaned from the trailer:

--In the original play, the term of endearment used by one couple is ‘woof-woof.’ For the movie, it’s apparently been changed to ‘doodle.’ (The endearment is a recurring joke throughout the play.)

--Some of the character names have been changed. In the American version of the play, the characters are Alan Raleigh, Annette Raleigh, Michael Novak and Veronica Novak.

--The setting of the movie (and American version of the play) is Brooklyn. Because of Polanski’s legal situation, the film was shot in Paris. You will notice in the trailer that there is a flier for the Brooklyn Academy of Music hanging in the apartment belonging to the Foster and Reilly characters.

--Some of the play’s key visual gags are also in the movie -- a vase of tulips, a bucket and a constantly buzzing cellphone that meets a tragic end.


--A recently released publicity still from the movie shows a scene of kids fighting on an open field in what looks like Brooklyn. In the play, the fight takes place entirely offstage and we never see the children. (Considering Polanski’s legal predicament, was this scene shot with a second unit?)

--A representative of Gandolfini told The Times this year that the actor was offered a part in the movie but that he had to turn it down for ‘numerous reasons.’


Actors talk about rhythm of ‘God of Carnage’

Theater review: ‘God of Carnage’ at the Ahmanson Theatre

Yasmina Reza and Christopher Hampton discuss ‘God of Carnage’

-- David Ng