What are supposed to be transgressive observations about the holy state of parenthood and matrimony instead come across as self-satisfied and shallow as the pieties Reza intends to puncture.
You may recognize the arrogance and anxieties, the class resentments and domestic bile, from your PTA's most recent talent night. More likely, they're as close as the nearest mirror.
Even as it successfully evokes the single location as a pressure cooker for heightened behavior, its take on the psychological and emotional side effects of such an airless situation never transcends the obvious.
I was put off by the acting, or more properly by the spectacle of good actors dutifully following leaden direction, and equally by the writing, which is as thin as the veneer of civilization it purports to peel back.
Carnage is satisfied to be an absolutely virtuoso piece of cinema craft, and to give its excellent cast multiple opportunities to show off their comedic chops, which are considerable.
Foster is particularly impressive in a stridently unattractive role, as the pinched, angry liberal who's orchestrated the meeting but doesn't get quite the apology she wants.
Scathing and funny and cynical about contemporary society and the hypocritical way we live now, Carnage may not be the dream movie I expected, but it has a dream cast of pure, unimpeachable ensemble perfection.