Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara give two of the most powerful performances of the year in the “forbidden” romantic drama “Carol”. Director Todd Haynes (“Far from Heaven”, “I’m Not There.”) captures the elegance and beauty of falling in love in 1950s New York. This is a simple, but thoroughly moving film.
Blanchett embodies the title role, a mother of 4-year-old Rindy and housewife to Harge (played by Kyle Chandler). Carol and Harge are on the verge of a divorce and are battling over who should get custody of their little girl. It’s Christmastime and Carol enters a department store to young clerk, Therese (Mara). She’s an aspiring photographer and currently in a tense relationship with boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy).
Carol and Therese instantly catch each other’s eye. Carol buys a train set from Therese, and accidentally (or so it seems) leaves her gloves on the counter as she leaves the store. After Therese sends the gloves to Carol, the two agree to have lunch together, and it’s here they make a true connection, almost instantly seeing value and purpose in the person sitting across the table, something both are missing in their lives.
Haynes and the screenplay by Phyllis Nagy (adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt) honestly portray two complex women and the various complications of this delicate and scandalous romance. Blanchett and Mara share equal screen time – neither actress outshining the other – allowing us to invest wholeheartedly in both characters. Their subtle mannerisms, hesitations and the authenticity in their voices and movements are sublime. Sarah Paulson, as Carol’s longtime friend and former lover, has a key and effective supporting role.
The music is, at times, a little overpowering, distracting us from discovering some of Carol and Therese’s feelings, when together and apart. But overall, this sincere, meaningful story moves at a steady pace, leaving you with the bittersweet satisfaction of life to which we can all relate.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Carol” gets an A-.
Running Time: 118 min.