June 29, 2009

God of Carnage


Son of Alan (Jeff Daniels) and Annette (Hope Davis) hits son of Michael (James Gandolfini) and Veronica (Marcia Gay Harden) in playground. Alan and Annette visit Michael and Veronica to sort things out. They sip coffee, eat dessert, make small talk. They are polite. They start to disagree. Personal issues come out. Man turns on wife. Wife turns on husband. No more espresso---bring out the rum! Wives turn against husbands. Husbands turn against wives. Evening is ruined. Maybe the marriages are ruined.

The Tony-nominated cast are all up for the challenge, and they are fun to watch, especially James Gandolfini. But I wasn't quite sure how to interpret God of Carnage. Was it trying to say that underneath the civility, the artfully decorated apartments and homes, the seemingly perfect marriages and successful careers, lies a bed of hypocrisy and discontent? Was Yasmina Reza agreeing with whoever said that "Society is like bright paint applied on top of rotted wood"? Was she trying to say that our children are the way they are because of the kind of people the parents are? There are hilarious lines in the play, at times very savage dialogue. The ending left me wanting though. I guess there was no easy way to end a night of brutality and unkindness. I suppose that just reinforces the complexity of society and human relationships. Maybe it just means that we are individuals after all, and there can be no one universal truth or experience.

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