Mega-stars Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster star as fractious mothers in Roman Polanski’s adaptation of stage-play, Carnage.

Carnage

Cert.15

2/5 stars

CARNAGE centres on two couples, the Longstreets (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) and the Cowans (Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet) meeting to discuss a playground altercation between their sons.

Set solely in the Longstreet's living room and featuring just four characters, Carnage relies heavily on the performances and chemistry of the skilled actors.

Indeed, the all-star cast is likely to have attracted a larger audience, and while the quartet's talents are undisputed, the crucial chemistry is entirely missing in both couples.

Unlike the successful 2004 film adaptation of Closer, you're hyper-aware that you're watching something meant for the stage and are probably likely to think it should have stayed there.

Where the stage play would have felt intimate and the characters would have drawn you in, the film feels claustrophobic and the characters are more like caricatures.

Esteemed director, Roman Polanski, even descends into toilet humour, with a projectile-vomiting Winslet and a defensive Reilly actually discussing toilet flushing mechanisms.

The man who made Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist could have steered the subject matter into a clever, dark corner, and made better use of the setting's cringeworthy potential, but seems to have adhered to the original writer's incomplete characters and lethargic storyline.

At just 80 minutes and with little to no story-arc, it feels as though you're watching Winslet, Foster, Reilly and Waltz take part in an acting workshop and Carnage is a rough-cut, character study for a longer, 'proper' film.

This is one case where the faultless workmen can blame their tools.