Pin It
Favorite

Unexpected Attraction 

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara turn in dazzling performances in Carol

click to enlarge Rooney Mara (left) and Cate Blanchett in Carol.
  • Rooney Mara (left) and Cate Blanchett in Carol.

In Carol, all the elements dovetail perfectly to create a movie as irresistible as its title character. The movie has an allure that is almost trancelike, mimicking for viewers the inescapable attraction experienced by the two main characters. The period production design is perfectly on point, as is the 1950s costume and set design. Ed Lachman's exquisite camerawork captures every minor detail with a virtually tactile sensibility that beckons the viewer to fall swooningly into the frame. Director Todd Haynes also has an unmistakable feel for the period (see Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce if in doubt). The lead actresses, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, deliver some of the finest work of this, or any other, year.

Adapted by Phyllis Nagy for the screen from a 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith, Carol began life as a book titled The Price of Salt. It was Highsmith's second novel, published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, presumably due to its lesbian content. When it was reissued in the '90s, Highsmith changed the title to Carol and published it under her own name. She was primarily known as a suspense writer; the lesbian romance of Carol is something of a departure in Highsmith's oeuvre, although it may also be the author's most personal work.

Set in 1952, the film first introduces us to Therese Belivet (Mara), a shopgirl in the toy department of a large Manhattan department store at Christmastime. Vaguely bored at work, Therese also seems discontented with her boyfriend Richard Semco (Jake Lacy), who wants nothing more than to marry her — a proposal she regularly sidesteps. Her torpor is punctured by the arrival in the toy department of an elegant blonde woman in a fur coat. Not having the doll desired by the woman's daughter in stock, Therese sells the woman, Carol Aird (Blanchett), a train set instead. Polished and sophisticated, Carol seems to be everything the mousy-haired Therese, who is dressed in a sensible jumper and a demeaning, work-mandated Santa hat, is not. The intrigue begins.

At least a decade older than Therese, Carol is the mother of a 4-year-old, and is in the process of getting divorced from her wealthy and unresigned husband Harge (Kyle Chandler). Since their daughter is scheduled to spend the Christmas holiday with her father under a mutually amicable custody agreement, Carol decides to drive west for the holiday. On a whim, she invites Therese to join her. Each woman is drawn to the other — Therese, ironically, by Carol's urbanity, and Carol by Therese's jejuneness. Their mutual attraction is consummated in — of all places — Waterloo, Iowa.

Life's realities harshly interrupt their affair, yet like the book, the film ends on a positive note. With its Douglas Sirk-like tendencies, Carol feels like a movie that Haynes has always been destined to make. From the nail polish to the shoes, and the music (by Carter Burwell) to the old Packard, there's not a hair or glove out of place. Even the contrast between the acting styles — Blanchett's languor vs. Mara's feral gaze — feels of a piece with the film.♦

Trailer


Carol
Rated R · 118 minutes · 2016
Official Site: carolfilm.com
Director: Todd Haynes
Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Christine Vachon, Tessa Ross, Dorothy Berwin, Thorsten Schumacher, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Danny Perkins, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Robert Joliffe
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, Cory Smith, Carrie Brownstein, Kevin Crowley, Nik Pajic and Kyle Chandler

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Carol

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Mind the Gap
  • Mind the Gap

    20th Century Women offers a compassionate take on generational shifts
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Golden Arches
  • Golden Arches

    Michael Keaton gives us the story of McDonald's in the Founder
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend

    Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
AJ Suede, Prison Religion, Honey Badger, Wolftone

AJ Suede, Prison Religion, Honey Badger, Wolftone @ Red Room Lounge

Sun., Jan. 22, 7 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Marjorie Baumgarten

  • School Daze
  • School Daze

    Middle School aims for a softer, safer Ferris Bueller vibe
    • Oct 13, 2016
  • Checkmate
  • Checkmate

    Queen of Katwe is a sports movie done right
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Improv Material
  • Improv Material

    Don't Think Twice is a brutally honest take on show biz
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Spy vs. Spy

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation