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In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.Written by
The Weinstein Company
Phyllis Nagy, who at the time she was approached to write the script was the writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre in London, wrote the first draft in 1996. She spent almost two decades as the constant presence keeping the film project alive throughout financing problems. See more »
In the McKinley Motel restaurant scene, Carol walks towards the table where Therese and Tommy Tucker are sitting holding a cup of coffee in her right hand and carrying a chair and a map with her left hand. She places the chair next to Therese. In the following shot, as Therese introduces Carol to Tucker, the cup is in Carol's left hand and the map in her right hand. See more »
'Carol' is a fine film. The juxtaposition of the lavish costumes and production design with the grainy look of 16mm film sells the film's old-fashioned aesthetic. It is a well-shot film that is pleasant to look at. All of the individual performances are pretty good.
The best part of the film is the opening sequence. The credits play over a continuing shot of fifties New York accompanied by Carter Burwell's fantastic piece 'Opening'. This shot brings us to a scene in a restaurant. This is a flash-forward that we revisit later on in the film. Our first sight of the main couple occurs when a man at the bar looks around the restaurant and spots them at a table. In this shot, Therese (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett) are sitting at a table. Therese is sat facing away from the camera and towards Carol, who we can see clearly. My immediate reaction to this sight was "Wow, Cate Blanchett genuinely looks like she's in love." It felt real.
Unfortunately, I didn't get this feeling from the rest of the film. I couldn't feel any chemistry between Therese and Carol. Mara and Blanchett do their best with what they are given, but they aren't given enough. Their characters don't feel fleshed out. I didn't feel like I knew them as people by the end. The film's technical achievements can only lift a film so high. If you love this film then I'm glad, but I can't love it when I couldn't grow attached to the characters. This is especially a problem as this feels like a film driven more by character than by story.
Despite what I have said, this film didn't bore me. Mara and Blanchett are both engaging actresses who command your attention even if they aren't given enough to work with. The film is on the slow side but it goes at the right pace for what director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy were going for. Overall, it was an interesting experience that felt a bit empty.
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