Friday, December 11, 2015

Carol



This review originally appeared on SFist.com.

Todd Haynes is back with another story about homosexuality in the 1950s, but this time he's adapted a book, The Price of Salt, written by famed mystery author Patrica Highsmith in 1952 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. But unlike Far From Heaven, his 2002 homage to classic family melodramas, Haynes stays away from the filmmaking style of the 1950's, crafting a "woman's film" that could only be told now.

Cate Blanchett stars as Carol Aird, an upper class mother of a young daughter, in the midst of divorce from her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler). She's a strikingly beautiful blonde in creamy mink that instantly catches the eye of shop girl Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara). Actually, they catch each other's eyes, and the spark between them is undeniable. Therese, who has a boyfriend, aspires to be a photographer. Though she isn't confident about either of those situations, she doesn't hesitate when Carol invites her to lunch...and when circumstances push Carol to drive out west, Therese jumps at the chance to join her.

Like Far From Heaven, Carol is filled with impeccable costuming and set design; every detail rings absolutely true to its 1950s era. I swooned almost as much as Therese every time Carol enters a room — the hats! The coats! The jewelry! So enraptured was I by the look of the movie, I was almost able to overlook the fact that we don't actually get a lot of dialogue between the two women. What do they talk about during those long hours on the road? The movie would have us believe they spend most of those drives dreamily staring through the car's fog covered windows. In silence.

Carol is an absolutely terrific movie in many, many ways. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara deserve all the nominations they're going to get; Carter Burwell's score is lovely; the Super 16 cinematography by Edward Lachman is beautifully grainy. I just wish there was as much attention to detail given to the relationship between Carol and Therese as there was given to the world that surrounds them.

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