Why is it so popular? Because it's so easy. All you have to do is start with one character, then keep inventing friends and relatives until you connect them back to the first guy. This is exactly what writer/director Delphine Gleize has done. Unfortunately, she forgot that to add in anything along the way that we should actually care about.
It begins with some promise: A bullfighter gets prepared for his first duel. He isn't in the ring five minutes before he's gored in the belly and carted off to the hospital. The bull is immediately slaughtered and its parts scattered to the remaining characters in the film. A precocious five-year old girl prone to siezures sees the bullfight on TV; the girl's teacher passes a truck carrying the carcass. An Italian actress obsessed with removing her moles and taking some kind of naked water-bound primal scream class is working in a supermarket hawking bones. She sells a bone from the slaughtered bull to the father of the epileptic daughter. He crashes his shopping cart into the actress's car.
This kind of inane coincidence (never mind the film's tagline: "Six degrees is closer than it seems") continues for more than two hours. The characters are largely vapid and equally forgettable, if not horrible. A woman hides the fact she's carrying quintuplets from her husband. A suicidal skater stalks the actress. A taxidermist discovers his mute father. On and on it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.
Well, somebody knows. It ends back in the bullfighter's ring. And we've really learned nothing along the way.
Gleize cares so much about creating clever connections (which, sadly, aren't half as clever as she thinks) that the characters themselves get no attention at all. Who are these people? Why should we care about them? It isn't particularly difficult to grok or challenging to understand: It's so obvious it's hard to waste much brainpower on it at all. Instead we're stuck here wondering why people behave so ridiculously. Believe it or not we're rooting for them to suffer, they're so obnoxious. Only the bullfighter earns any sympathy from the audience at all, because he's in a coma for the bulk of the film.
Cine-snobs will find plenty of metaphorical meaning among all the shots of dead animals, dying people, and plates full of meat, and if you want to free-associate on death and rebirth, Carnage gives you ample room to do so. Too bad there are far better movies that don't try your patience like Carnage does.
The DVD includes two drawn-out short films from Gleize.
Run time: 80 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th November 2011
Box Office USA: $2.5M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Constantin Film Production, Sony Pictures Classics
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 124 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Delphine Gleize
Producer: Jérôme Dopffer
Screenwriter: Delphine Gleize
Also starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Lucia Sanchez, Esther Gorintin, Marilyne Even, Clovis Cornillac, Jacques Gamblin, Bernard Sens, Pascal Bongard, Julien Lescarret, Juliette Noureddine, Delphine Gleize
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