In Carnage, two well-intentioned, upper-class New York couples hash out the details of a schoolyard brawl between their sons. Ethan, the son of Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly), was swatted in the face with a tree branch by Zachary, the son of Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz), knocking out a few teeth.
Penelope is especially high-strung about the incident — so much so, she can’t help but insert little jibes even as Nancy and Alan (clearly less horrified by the events than Penelope would like) offer pro forma apologies. Their son “intentionally hit him,” she snipes, eventually causing Alan to observe, “Yes, we’ve established it was intentional — what is gained by emphasizing it?”
Penelope clearly wants to live in a world where enemies become friends and we all hold hands around a campfire; Alan, a high-powered litigator, has a more cynical view. “I worship the god of carnage,” he says. Bad things happen, even if not because of bad people. Violence simply is the way.