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Directed by Roman Polanski

Poland, 2011

Cornerhouse, 4 February 2012


Two couples come together to mediate over a dispute involving their respective offspring: two boys fighting each other in a park.

All is liberal sentiment, sweetness and light, perhaps edging towards sanctimoniousness.  Yet over the course of their deliberations, the veneer of civilised behaviour starts to flake and peel.

Its origins as a stage play (Yasmina Reza’s The God of Carnage, to be precise) are clear.  There are four principals, there’s the same quite enclosed space (one of the couples’ apartment) but it works well as a film and is certainly cinematic; which is hardly surprising with Polanski at the helm.  The comedy arises from the play’s excoriating quality – as it does too in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  It’s a play/film in that vein.

Fault lines within each couples’ relationship are exposed as they war with each other and there are splendid performances from the principals, Kate Winslet being maybe first among equals.  And that’s spiffing vomiting, lass.

This is perhaps the only film that fully acknowledges what a central role (i.e. irritating, distracting, exasperating) the mobile phone has in modern life.  No one is ever completely present, life is elsewhere always.