"Carnage" opens like the play it is adapted from and directed by Roman Polanski. Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) with husband Michael (John C. Reilly) invite the Cowans to their apartment, Nancy (Kate Winslet) along with her totally work absorbed husband, Christoph Waltz.
The Longstreets feel it necessary to discuss the reason why their "victim" son was struck by the "maniac brutalizer" Cowan's son. Michael would simply appreciate an apology from their son while Penelope seems to have her own agenda and she intends to push it.
Penelope and Nancy have a tremendous amount of tension between them which is palpable from the onset. Michael appears personable, overly generous and friendly at first. Mr. Cowan is on the cell phone constantly as a pharmaceutical lawyer and much more absent in the genesis of the conversation.
The 'go around' all plays out in the living room as you can sense the air suck right out of the room. It becomes almost claustrophobic in feel as the couples begin talking, accusing, and definitely getting far off the topic of their sons.
In the obvious stress inducing situation, especially for Nancy and then Penelope, topics and tension get verbally and emotionally out of hand and control. The discussing of the children quickly is set aside as marital issues insidiously invade the conversing. More like spouting offs!
The husbands slowly get involved by first defending their wives, arguing with each other and then challenging each other. The 'Scotch' comes on the scene, as the husbands decide it would be a great time to take a vintage bottle out for a ride. Nancy demands a drink of her own while defending Penelope and having a reluctant Michael pour his wife some also.
Alliances are formed and broken then reattached almost as fast as the mercurial, rapid fire dialogue. The words are shot between them as bullets from a gun and land as caustically. The husbands start to turn on their wives while getting pretty frustrated; "you think too much...women think too much" and "yes, I feel like being completely despicable".
The talking and commenting becomes totally ludicrous in the smack down. All four actors are at the top of their game in this: tightly wound, inflammatory, tense and hilarious as one topic is flying into another then back again.
At the very end of the film before the credits roll, I saw one of the best ending scenes so far for tying up loose ends and a good shot in the arm of laughter for myself. It does put things in perspective in a very scant amount of time.