Adapted from Yasmina Reza's play, the film puts two couples who hate each other in a room, and watches as they rip each other to shreds. For a moment, it seems that Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz) have come to an amicable agreement with Penny (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C Reilly) after a violent altercation between their young sons in a park.
It doesn't take long, though, for their bourgeois manners to desert them, their masks to slip, and their true feelings – and mutual loathing – to burst out to hilarious and draw-dropping effect. Before long, a treasured book has been covered in vomit, and a bunch of tulips indecorously thrashed to pieces.
Polanksi expertly choreographs his actors in the film's apartment setting, while they throw themselves into their roles as if their lives depended on it. Thanks to everyone operating at the top of their game, this small gem is not to be missed.
Originally published in The Scotsman