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Carnages (2002)

Carnage

Six degrees is closer than it seems.

Directed by:

Delphine Gleize

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 130 minutes

US Certificate: Unrated UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland

When Victor the matador (Julien Lescarret) is injured at work – and, let’s face it, if you’re a bull-fighter you deserve everything you get – the poor old cow-chops responsible is taken to the abattoir, where he’s cut up into itty-bitty pieces and dispatched across the length and breadth of Europe. The eyes reach a scientist (Jacques Gamblin), who’s 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 girl’s (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, I’ve been needing a new set of disgusting blood-spattered cattle-horns for ages! You shouldn’t 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 Europe’s answer to Paul Thomas Anderson’s frog-dropping 1999 marathon Magnolia. That’s 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, there’s 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 it’s 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 it’s an interesting piece of work and I’m already keen to see where Gleize’s career takes her next. She’s certainly a helmswoman who isn’t 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 butcher’s at some of Gleize’s 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

Alternatives:

Magnolia

Summary

This meaty drama may prove an acquired taste, but it’s far from a load of bull. And don’t worry – I’m stopping the puns right there, before the temptation to say “the steaks are too high” just becomes far too great.

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