Movie Review: Carol
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Director: Todd Haynes
Screenwriter: Phyllis Nagy
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Carrie Brownstein
The Weinstein Company
Rated R | 118 Minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2015

“My angel, flung out of space…”

Directed by Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Far From Heaven) and written by Phyllis Nagy (Mrs. Harris), Carol is based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.

Set in 1952 in New York City, the movie follows Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), a twentysomething shop clerk, and her relationship with Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), an alluring older woman going through a divorce. An aspiring photographer, Therese is working in the toy department of a Manhattan department store when she is approached by Carol, who purchases a model train set for her daughter as a Christmas gift.

Carol leaves her gloves behind, so Therese mails them to her home in New Jersey. Out of gratitude for Therese’s kind act, Carol invites the young woman out to lunch, where she then extends an invitation to visit during the holidays. In the midst of a difficult divorce with her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), Carol is struggling to maintain custody of their daughter, Rindy, and is in desperate need of a friend.

Harge begins to question Carol’s competence as a mother as her relationship with Therese “” and a brief tryst with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) “” come to light. Resentful of his wife and their loveless marriage, Harge leaves on a business trip to Florida and takes Rindy with him. In response, Carol and Therese take a road trip to Chicago to escape the stresses of their lives and their bond deepens.

Powered by a phenomenal cast and Edward Lachman‘s exquisite cinematography, Carol is a soul-stirring treatise on unspoken desire and social expectations. Carol and Therese are unfulfilled, unconventional women in a socially conservative world, unable to stray from the prescribed path. When they meet, there is an immediate and intense connection that compels them to defy conventional norms in pursuit of an authentic life.

Accented by Carter Burwell‘s magnificent score, Nagy’s screenplay captures the intoxicating thrill of a forbidden love and the heartache that comes with the realization that it cannot be sustained. Blanchett and Mara deliver spellbinding, achingly tender performances, shifting from playful teasing to gut-wrenching sorrow with a glance. Blanchett continues to turn in one tremendous performance after another, but Mara’s transformation from doe-eyed callow youth to experienced adult is the most rewarding aspect of Carol. It’s inspiring to see these characters find the courage to be who they want to be, venturing into uncharted territory in search of themselves.

Shot on Super 16mm, there’s an unshakable authenticity to Haynes’ film. From the color palette of mint greens, pale yellows, and dirty pinks, to the Cincinnati pre-war buildings used to mirror New York in the ’50s, the movie is a sumptuous period piece that is flawlessly crafted and altogether consuming. Bold, intelligent, and sensitively realized, Carol is the rare film that leaves you both devastated and reinvigorated.

One of the best films of 2015, Carol is now playing in select cities and opens wide on Christmas Day. To find a showtime near you, visit the Weinstein Company’s official website.


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