Carol

"Essential"

Carol Review


As in his gorgeous film Far From Heaven and TV series Mildred Pierce, filmmaker Todd Haynes tells a simple story with visual impact and thematic resonance. All three of these projects centre on characters who feel like outsiders in their societies, offering staggeringly complex roles for Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet and now Cate Blanchett. This one is also based on a Patricia Highsmith novel (published originally as The Price of Salt), so it has an added layer of underlying intensity.

The story is set in the run-up to Christmas 1952, as New York department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara) becomes intrigued by Carol (Blanchett), a glamorous customer who seems unusually attentive. Therese finds a reason to contact her, and the two become friends despite the difference in age and class. Meanwhile, Carol is trying to extricate herself from her marriage to Harge (Kyle Chandler), who is still feeling wounded by Carol's relationship with another woman (Sarah Paulson) and threatens to use her friendship with Therese to deny custody of their young daughter. And Therese also has a nice-guy suitor in Richard (Jake Lacy), who is becoming increasingly suspicious. With all of this pressure on them, Carol and Therese make an impulsive decision to take a road trip together.

The events unfold with delicate precision, as Phyllis Nagy's script smartly allows these woman to circle around each other trying to work out how they feel. There's a gun-in-the-suitcase element that adds a bit of spark, but the real story here plays out between the lines in exquisite performances from Blanchett and Mara, who convey most of their feelings through offhanded glances and subtle gestures. This adds beautifully to the depiction of the period's repressive attitudes without ever being obvious about it, and it also reveals the deep emotions that come with feeling like you don't fit in with what society expects of you.

By taking such a gripping, artful approach, Haynes makes the blossoming romance between these women feel almost unexpected, so when they finally express their passion it feels cathartic and revelatory rather than sentimental. This makes the film a quietly involving romance rather than a depiction of restrictive social structures. Indeed, this is a fiercely clever exploration of how what we see on the surface is rarely the whole truth. And rather than just a lesbian romance, this is a story everyone can identify with, because it explores the way love often arrives in unexpected ways, opening us to a life we never imagined we could have.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Carol here:



Carol

Facts and Figures

Genre: Romance

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th November 2015

Production compaines: Killer Films, Film4, Number 9 Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Therese Belivet, as Carol Aird, as Abby Gerhard, as Harge Aird, as Richard, Carrie Brownstein as Genevieve Cantrell, Cory Michael Smith as Tommy, as Dannie, as Fred Haymes

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