“Carol” Film Review

Director Todd Hayes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There.) is one of my favorite directors.  Ever since I saw the brilliant Far From Heaven, I fell in love with is work.

Carol, his latest film, is another work of beauty, featuring top-notch performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.  Why it wasn’t nominated over Best Picture, I am not sure.  From the screenplay to the cinematography, this is one gorgeous, romance that shatters your heart.

Therese (Mara) is a young, department store clerk who works in the toy department.  She is a reader & amateur photographer who dreams of a better life.  One day at the store, Therese is greeted by a housewife, Carol Aird (Blanchett), looking for a Christmas present for her daughter.  She is looking for a particular doll, which ends up being sold out, so Therese sells her on a new train set instead.

When Carol leaves the department counter, she leaves her gloves on the counter.  Therese makes it a responsibility to send them in the mail so that she gets them back.  Carol is delighted to hear from Therese via mail, so she telephones her at the department store, inviting her to lunch.  Therese agrees to the lunch, as she is captivated by Carol, even though she has a man her life, Richard (played by Jake Lacy), who wants her to travel to Europe with him and get married.

The two begin a friendship, that soon reveals secrets and love affair between the two of them.  Carol is going through a divorce from her husband, Harge (played by Kyle Chandler), who desperately wants Carol to stay with him and cure her lesbian interests, after she had a love affair with her best friend Abby (played by Sarah Paulson).  However, Carol cannot stand fighting herself and doesn’t like Harge’s family.  So, Harge decides to get even by going back to his lawyer and requesting full custody of their daughter.

Shocked by the news, but willing to fight, Carol decides to head west with Therese so that they can get away for a few days.  The two of them spend time talking, laughing, making love, along with Therese practicing her passions for photography.  It all seems to be good to be true, but soon life takes a sharp left, leaving Carol with a very hard decision.

Cate Blanchett is exquisite, as always, in the title role.  She is gorgeous, reserved, but also emotional, creating this very complex character that is struggling with something that is natural.  Blanchett is simply devine and doesn’t hold back on anything.

Rooney Mara is also amazing as Therese, playing a woman who is still trying to figure her life out.  She is confused and always says she will say “Yes” to anything, because she doesn’t know what she wants.  Her and Blanchett have a beautiful chemistry.

As for the rest of the cast, Paulson is also strong standout as Blanchett’s good friend.  She is the support and strength that Carol needs, especially during a scene where Chandler’s characters visits Paulson’s character’s home to search for Carol.  Paulson gives bite and gusto, in a role very much suited for her.

As for Todd Hayes, the film is very sharp and picturesque, taping into the 50s era and hiring cinematographer Edward Lachman (Far From Heaven) to add that gorgeous touch.  Together, the two of them, along with a stunning score from Carter Burwell, make a work of art that is beautifully written by Phyllis Nagy.  Also, a huge shout out to one of my favorite costume designers, Sandy Powell.

Conclusion:

Carol is my favorite film of 2015.  I was captivated by Cate Blanchet, Rooney Mara and Edward Lachman’s cinematography.  The Academy definitely made a mistake by not including in the list of Best Picture nominees.  Thank goodness it was nominated in the Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score & Best Costume Design categories.  Rated R.

5 diamonds

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