Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut misses the mark of excellence and is only saved by the marvellously restrained and dignifiedly polished Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay. He somehow lacks the British sensibility to bring this British dramedy across effectively. Ronald Harwood's script based on his play has a pertinent theme it wants to sat, although well written, with well played quips, one liners, puns and wit, but unfortunately when translated to the big screen it kind of fall flat. Both director and playwright are to be blamed. Hoffman's direction is pedestrian at best, filled with cliches but there are occasional brilliance. Polanski's "Carnage", though not without flaws, is how one should strictly translate a play to the screen. Lucky for Hoffman, his main cast are his saving grace. Maggie Smith plays the curmudgeon dame, again, who softens slowly, but her portrayal is not flat and insteads infuses the character with certain complexities that makes her great to watch. Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon rounds out the main cast with aplomb. Although Collins' dottiness can be a bit too overbearing. Dario Marianelli's score complements the classics and wisely chose not to overpower them. A great cast with a good material, but sadly paired with the wrong director and only climbed to the rung of good and failed to reached the heights of excellence.


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