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Running Time:
1 hour 58 minutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for a scene of sexuality/nudity and brief language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
A strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara highlight this sumptuous romantic drama.

Additional Info:
Cate Blanchett ... Carol Aird
Rooney Mara ... Therese Belivet
Kyle Chandler ... Harge Aird
Jake Lacy ... Richard Semco
Sarah Paulson ... Abby Gerhard
John Magaro ... Dannie McElroy
Cory Michael Smith ... Tommy Tucker
Kevin Crowley ... Fred Haymes
Nik Pajic ... Phil McElroy
Carrie Brownstein ... Genevieve Cantrell
Trent Rowland ... Jack Taft
Sadie Heim ... Rindy Aird
Kk Heim ... Rindy Aird
Amy Warner ... Jennifer Aird
Michael Haney ... John Aird

The film opens as Carol (Cate Blanchett), a New York suburban divorcee  and Therese (Rooney Mara), a young department store clerk sit in a fancy restaurant and are interrupted by one of Therese's friends. The remainder of the film flashes back to their meeting and eventually fills us in on the importance of their dinner scene. 

Harge (Kyle Chandler) is the jilted, typically patriarchal husband who still manages to sympathetically show the hurt of losing his wife. Jake Lacy plays Mara's boyfriend, and like Chandler, he evokes sympathy due to the fact that society expected alpha male behavior from its men. Sarah Paulson plays Blanchett's ex-girlfriend, and in her very few scenes, she paints a vivid picture of a woman not afraid to be her own person, much like the actress herself.

Cate Blanchett, however, has the toughest part, and she's riveting and theatrical in a way we haven't seen since the great female stars of the 30s and 40s. The performance factor necessary to conform to 50s society reads loud and clear with every formal gesture and tight smile Blanchett gives. Carol often comes off as a predator in trying to ensnare Therese, lacing her polite conversation with subtle innuendos and not-so-subtle glances. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara don't so much have chemistry together as they do an odd performance friction and a cohesive dedication to the subject matter. When Therese requests Carol's address and subsequently mails gloves she left behind, it feels like a suspenseful, sexually charged endeavor. It's a risk that still could lead to jail time, torture and even execution in many parts of the world today.

It takes most of the film's running time for these women to even so much as kiss. They circle each other, speak in code, until they finally, FINALLY feel safe. Late in the film, there's a surprising turn of events that drives home the necessity for gay people to be quiet even behind closed doors. Carol keeps things pretty chaste and at arm's length throughout. It's long been a signature of director Todd Haynes ("Far from Heaven") to play with these formalities and expose what's hidden just under the surface. If you love that style, you'll love it again in Carol. This film remains true to its time and is a reminder of how far we've come as an American society, yet how far we need to go as a world community still.

Like its source material, Patricia Highsmith's novel, "The Price of Salt", Carol is a romance that feels like a mystery thriller. If you don't mind its formal style, stilted chastity and the feeling that Todd Haynes has already made this film before, you're likely to fall for the lushness of the furs, the restaurant smoking, the poached eggs and creamed spinach dishes and the "love that dare not speak its name" nature of this little gem.

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