CAROL film review
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are award-caliber in "Carol"

CAROL film review

Carol   ***1/2 out of 4 stars

starring Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett 

directed by Todd Haynes


When a film by director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) comes out, it’s a cause for celebration. And Carol, adapted from the novel The Prince of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, and featuring peak-performances by Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, is no exception. Haynes’ beautifully-hypnotic romance transports us to 1950’s New York, where an unspoken of love blossoms between store clerk Therese(Mara, in the performance of her career) who dreams of being a photographer, and the older, wealthy, and married Carol. The point of contact comes when Carol is buying a gift for her daughter, Therese suggesting a train set. And with that, we watch, as the relationship between the two women unfolds in quietly, mysteriously, and ravishing ways, with dazzling images captured in Super 16MM by Haynes’ usual cinematographer Edward Lachman.

Haynes doesn’t need dialogue to tell his story. Just look in Therese’s eyes when she first sees Carol. Both of them are floored. But in a time when same-sex relations were considered unnatural, the desire between them is told mostly through these kinds of nuances. There are hints that people already know this about Carol, through her divorce with her husband (Kyle Chandler), and in revealing conversations with her close friend Abby (a very fine Sarah Paulson). With joint custody of her daughter being held against her for “unmoral” ways, Carol takes Therese on the road out west to get away, things between them finally start heating up, before a shattering incident causes Carol to rush home, leaving it to Abby to drive a broken Therese back home.

As the film transitions into it’s final act, with a reformed Therese taking a job at The New York Times, and Carol still battling in her divorce, they reconnect over drinks before venturing out to their own, now fully independent lives. Will they join each other for the night and on?

Much like Haynes’ Far From Heaven,  he  excels more by showing us the glory of independent thought and the heart’s desires, propelled by Phyllis Nagy’s award-caliber screenplay. And the actors couldn’t be better. Rooney Mara is in full command, a sorceress at showing Therese’s wit and confused emotion. “I don’t even know what to order for breakfast”, she admits over eggs. And Blanchett is as good as ever, especially at showing how the charming woman in Carol can quickly be cracked to gun-wielding rage. Sure to be one of the best films this year, Carol succeeds by coming at you in lovely, majestic ways, without being too pushy. It will cast a spell on you.

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