Roman Polanski. Christoph Waltz. Jodie Foster. Kate Winslet. John C. Reilly. Sounds great, right? And then you see the plot. Two sets of parents meet to discuss their two sons who have gotten into a fight. Question mark? It's an eighty minute parent conference. It shouldn't be as much fun as it is. But between the great writing and the stellar acting, it's hard not to look away from what, in any other situation, would be a snooze-fest.
To be honest, since I do love Roman Polanski, I had hoped the script would be a little better than it was. Which isn't to say that it was bad. It was a well done script. But there were bits and pieces--mainly, the fact that it relied too much occasionally on the men vs. women dynamic and a little-too-hard-to-watch vomit scene (there's cringy-but-epic hard to watch, then there's I-need-to-go-home-and-splash-holy-water-on-my-eyes hard to watch. This was the latter). But to be fair, Polanski had a hard act to follow with the likes of similar small-group-of-people-stuck-together movies like Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966), and it's been a while since anyone's been bold enough to take something like that on.
Still, the main draw of this movie was the acting. Hands down. I've always been a big Christoph Waltz fan, and he definitely delivers as the aloof business man who can't get off his cellphone. His wife is played by Kate Winslet and with her quiet intensity, they make a fantastic power couple. Jodie Foster also gives a brilliant, emotional, hysterical performance, and if I have any complaint about her it's that she didn't get enough time playing off Christoph Waltz as they were both the strongest players in the film. John C. Reilly, ever underrated, appears to be something of the "odd man out" at first glance, but he holds his own and gives a solid performance. All in all, it's a great movie simply to watch fantastic actors play off each other, and it's an easy 80 minutes so it never overstays its welcome.