1 hour 58 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for a scene of sexuality/nudity and brief language
Cate Blanchett ...
Rooney Mara ...
Kyle Chandler ...
Jake Lacy ...
Sarah Paulson ...
John Magaro ...
Cory Michael Smith ...
Kevin Crowley ...
Nik Pajic ...
Carrie Brownstein ...
Trent Rowland ...
Sadie Heim ...
Kk Heim ...
Amy Warner ...
Michael Haney ...
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.