“Carol” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

27 November, 2015

Director: Todd Haynes
Screenwriter: Phyllis Nagy
Director of Photography: Edward Lachman  
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Synopsis: Set in the 1950s, Carol tells the story of a shy photographer who falls in love with an elegant housewife while working part-time in a local department store. As the two embark on a passionate romance, their relationship puts a strain on the married woman’s family life after the well-being of her young daughter is put into question.

Carol Review:

To call a film like “Carol” straight-laced feels like a bit of a joke considering its subject matter but Todd Haynes is such an obsessively twee filmmaker that his movie couldn’t be a more accurate replica of a vintage Sirkian melodrama. Old-fashioned in both its context and its style, “Carol” is a picture-perfect soap opera pushed through a shiny Hollywood filter and Haynes overthinks everything, from the touch of a cigarette to the movement of cars and people; rewarding a patient audience with subtle exchanges, coy glances, and overall rhythmic perfection.

The gentle exchanges between Carol and Therese promise something that the film is not prepared to give straight away as their tight-lipped expressions refuse to let their intentions affect their manner but the glint is always in their eyes, in the way they hold each other’s gaze just that little bit too long. “Carol” is a movie made for an art gallery and yet it’s also an emotional rollercoaster as the more hopeless you become in its presence the further the drama unravels. It’s a film that will follow you around for days, lingering in your mind, tangling you up in the daydream of Carter Burwell’s reflective score.

While critics have unsurprisingly spewed most of their praise in Cate Blanchett’s direction, her performance is barely notable when compared with her younger co-star’s more subtle and naturalistic delivery. Rooney Mara lives and breathes her character and she is thoroughly believable as a young woman first exploring her sexuality. Blanchett, on the other hand, appears almost theatrical in comparison with a more traditional Academy-friendly performance.

Like Grandma’s sponge pudding, “Carol” is comprised of a number of tolerable mouthfuls waiting to be consumed but it takes some gluttonous effort to see past its dainty outer shell and reach the decadent filling at its centre. While it can be uncomfortable at times to chomp down on undiluted melodrama of this sort, the love story at the heart of “Carol” is most definitely an affair to remember. Not only does Todd Haynes know how to create the feeling of falling in love on-screen he also perfectly captures the painful sensation of yearning and separation in times of complete infatuation.


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