Carnage is a 2011 black comedy film co-written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the play God of Carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza. The film is an international co-production of France, Germany, Spain and Poland. When two grade-school boys get into a confrontation in the park that results in one boy hitting the other in the mouth with a stick, their parents meet in a Brooklyn apartment to discuss the matter. The parents of the boy wielding the stick, Alan and Nancy Cowan (Waltz and Winslet), visit the home of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (Reilly and Foster), who are the parents of the boy who was struck. Their meeting is initially intended to be a short visit but various circumstances, such as Nancy vomiting in the Longstreet's living room and Alan's numerous cell phone conversations, continue to draw it out. At first, the verbal exchange between the two married couples maintains a high civility factor but when the differences between them start to emerge, subtly at first and eventually glaringly, the couples begin to turn on each other and finally each on their own spouse.
A bouncing Alexandre Desplat score clicks into action over the credit sequence, just about the only thing in the film that happens outside that apartment and the hallway outside. As the credits roll over a cold day in Brooklyn Bridge Park, some children silently confer, argue, group, and split apart; then the stick is swung, and teeth lost. Next, the Longstreets (parents to the boy who was hit, Ethan) and the Cowans (whose Zachary did the hitting) are gathered in the Longstreets’ apartment going over the wording of a statement. Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) is battering away at the keyboard, her face pulled so tight you can practically hear her teeth clicking.
Meanwhile, Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz), a lawyer of the gleefully soulless variety who can’t decide whether he’s bored or irritated and settles on a combative brew of the two, quibbles with the judgmental tone of her phrasing: “Armed with a stick?” Penelope thinks that the issue needs discussion and analysis and resolution, while Alan couldn’t care less: “Our son is a maniac,” he shrugs, before taking another in a series of abrasive phone calls that punctuate the film like water-torture. Slightly on the sidelines are Alan’s wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Penelope’s defensively dopey husband Michael (John C. Reilly), though with a little prodding they get right into the thick of battling for the moral high ground.