Six degrees is closer than it seems.
Running Time: 130 minutes
US Certificate: Unrated UK Certificate: 12
Country: Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, France
When Victor the matador (Julien Lescarret) is injured at work and, lets face it, if youre a bull-fighter you deserve everything you get the poor old cow-chops responsible is taken to the abattoir, where hes cut up into itty-bitty pieces and dispatched across the length and breadth of Europe. The eyes reach a scientist (Jacques Gamblin), whos cheating on his preggers wife (Portuguese popstrel Lio), so presumably needs them to keep look-out for him. One of the bones is bought by a couple for their little girls (Raphaelle Molinier) pet pooch. Some of the steak winds-up on the plate of a Spanish woman (Angela Molina) in a restaurant. And, best of all, a French simpleton (Bernard Sens) ends up getting the horns from his batty old mother as a birthday present. Gee, thanks mum! Seriously, Ive been needing a new set of disgusting blood-spattered cattle-horns for ages! You shouldnt have!
Using striking visuals and strong, under-played acting to link the lives of this sporadically-interesting mob of continentals, Carnages could be described as Europes answer to Paul Thomas Andersons frog-dropping 1999 marathon Magnolia. Thats not just because both films are about the inadvertently-intertwining lives of a bunch of somebody-or-others, but also because both are too long, try too hard to convince us of their artsyness, and are just that little bit guilty of buying into their own pomposity.
But, also like Magnolia, theres a lot to like about Carnages. French writer-director Delphine Gleize is clearly a woman with bags of creative flair and ideas to burn and the way she links the various scenarios together is, in the words of Blackadder, so clever you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel. And, while its certainly not the most accessible of films, the fleeting instances of comic relief work very well (particularly the scenes involving Clovis Cornillac as the suicidal Alexis).
Carnages is unlikely to garner such widespread appeal as the bull-bits it features so prominently, but its an interesting piece of work and Im already keen to see where Gleizes career takes her next. Shes certainly a helmswoman who isnt afraid to take the bull well-and-truly by the horns.
It's Got: Innards. So not always ideal for the squeamish, then.
It Needs: Balls. What happened to them?
DVD Extras A butchers at some of Gleizes previously-directed short films, some trailers, a director interview, and some out-takes. Edition reviewed: Carnages (Tartan Video) - also from Amazon.com Carnage (Wellspring Media) DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
This meaty drama may prove an acquired taste, but its far from a load of bull. And dont worry Im stopping the puns right there, before the temptation to say the steaks are too high just becomes far too great.