Carol (15)



Drama (2015)
119mins UK/US

Starring: Sarah Paulson, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Cate Blanchett, Jake Lacy
Director: Todd Haynes
Writer(s): Phyllis Nagy
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Shrinking violet Therese Belivet works in the toy section of Frankenberg's department store in 1950s New York. She has an adoring boyfriend, Richard, but her humdrum life lacks excitement until Carol Aird sashays into the store looking for a Christmas present. During a subsequent lunch date, conversation is underscored with an unspoken erotic charge. The bond between the women deepens, kindling a passionate affair, which forces Carol's estranged husband Harge to take drastic action.

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LondonNet Film Review
Carol (15)

Love tears good people apart in Todd Haynes' masterful period drama based on the novel The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. Elegantly adapted by Phyllis Nagy, Carol charts an unlikely romance between a shop girl and a glamorous housewife against the backdrop of early 1950s New York. The impeccable style of the era conceals a maelstrom of messy, raw emotion, which overflows in the film's heartbreaking second act as forbidden lovers discover the terrible cost of their liaisons...

Carol. Copyright: Studio Canal. Caption: Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett star in Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Photo: Wilson Webb. Copyright: Studio Canal. All Rights Reserved.In a year blessed with extraordinary performances from actresses, Haynes' picture boasts the mesmerising on-screen pairing of Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett as independent women from opposite sides of the social divide, who seek refuge in each other's arms. They are both exquisite, exposing the chinks in their characters' brittle armour as giddiness turns to despair in the cold light of day. Every line of dialogue is beautifully tailored, complemented by gorgeous costumes and production design that capture the restrictive social mores of a time when every conversation was conducted beneath gently entwining tendrils of smoke. "Just when you think it can't get any worse, you run out of cigarettes," jokes the title character during one tense exchange.

Mara plays shrinking violet Therese Belivet, who works in the toy section of Frankenberg's department store. She has an adoring boyfriend, Richard (Jake Lacy), but her humdrum life lacks excitement until Carol Aird (Blanchett) sashays into the store looking for a Christmas present. The two women exchange pleasantries and Carol orders an expensive train set. She leaves, forgetting her pair of black leather gloves. Therese kindly returns the items and Carol reciprocates with an offer of lunch. Conversation is initially stilted, underscored with an unspoken erotic charge, and Carol enquires about Therese's relationship with Richard. "Would you like to marry him?" she asks. "I... barely know what to order for lunch," jokes Therese. The bond between the women deepens, kindling a passionate affair, which forces Carol's estranged husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) to seek sole custody of their daughter Rindy (Sadie and KK Heim). Best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) is dragged into the acrimonious legal battle and Carol pleads with Harge to let go of her and his bitterness. "We go to court and it gets ugly," she tells him tenderly. "We're not ugly people, Harge."

Carol is a triumph, anchored by Mara and Blanchett's flawless embodiment of their star-crossed protagonists. Paulson delivers impassioned support and Chandler oozes weariness and despair as the spouse, who resorts to spite to cling onto his failed marriage. Director Haynes is no stranger to the era, having considered matters of class and sexual orientation in suburban 1950s Connecticut in the Oscar nominated drama Far From Heaven. He is equally accomplished here, rendering the emotional devastation in meticulous, controlled brushstrokes. We're spellbound as his paint dries.

- Kim Hu

Carol. Copyright: Studio Canal. Caption: Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett star in Carol, directed by Todd Haynes. Photo: Wilson Webb. Copyright: Studio Canal. All Rights Reserved.


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