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Subtle, beautiful
cowfeet1 November 2015
I loved this film for the subtleties. Lots of lingering, carefully framed shots and closeups. Lots of quiet scenes. Lots conveyed through looks and innuendo.

Rooney and Cate captured what it's like to be nervous yet excited while falling in love. It felt real. It felt like two people unsure of themselves, offering up just a bit of their true feelings at a time and waiting for the other person to do the same before revealing more.

Kyle Chandler's performance hasn't been commented on as much as the leads, but he was just as excellent. He played the part of tortured husband well without coming off as a mere villain. I sympathized with him and even understood where he was coming from.

I thought the film captured the time period in a very unique way. Nothing was overtly flashy or Normal Rockwell 50s, and at times it even felt gritty compared to most depictions of the era, but it was really beautiful.

The film stayed with me on the ride home, and I drove in silence while I reflected on it. That's how I judge a movie. If you are the type that loves character driven films, I'd very much recommend it. If you don't handle slow burn movies well, it might not be for you.
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"I miss you... I miss you..."
mattiasflgrtll629 December 2015
Finally. FINALLY. This is the movie which completely overwhelmed my expectations and blew me away.

Romance is actually one of my favorite genres, but unfortunately it has let me down a lot more than once. Not the case with Carol. This has a strong possibility of being the best movie of 2015.

Therese is a woman working in a store who has an interest in trains and photography. But her hobbies is not enough to escape her boring and quite uneventful life. Carol has a wonderful daughter and is doing fine financially... but has an husband (whom she is trying to divorce) who won't leave her alone and makes her feel miserable.

These two people meet, and... they connect.

First off, the story itself is already incredibly captivating. It takes place during a time period where homosexuality was not only frowned upon, but there were even laws against it. So seeing the two of them facing struggles in order to keep in contact with each other is fascinating to behold. And it is because the love story is so damn beautiful. There is a lot of visual language. Eye contact and body language often speaks for itself. And it's excellently executed, as you sometimes know exactly how these two character are feeling without a single word spoken. And even the dialogue itself has subtlety to it. There are plenty of times where either Carol or Therese insinuate feelings by using seemingly casual sentences. "Your perfume... it smells good." is really just a synonym for "I want to kiss you". "Oh stop it, you look perfect!" can very well mean "I want to spend the rest of my life with you." The lines are not obvious giveaways and I love it. The audience gets to think for themselves.

But what really makes this movie work is the acting. It's absolutely amazing. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are at their best ever. They make the characters so real, so human, that you wish they actually existed. Kyle Chandler also throws in a remarkable performance as the husband. You root for the two girls... but you don't hate Harge either. There is one scene where he has gone so far as to get himself to the house Carol and Therese is staying at for the weekend. And when he's told he can't have her, I was really feeling bad for the guy!

I can't remember the last time I have been as touched by a movie. It hit my heart just in the right places, and when I walked out of the theater I felt like I had just experienced someone else's life.

Okay, the trailer revealed too goddamn much from the movie, so several important plot details I already knew beforehand. But even that couldn't stop the perfectly orchestrated ocean of emotions it bathed me in. Carol will stick to your brain like glue after you've watched it. Oh and the movie too ;)
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Charming, subtle and in the end it all comes down to Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara's unforgettable, brilliant performances.
fabiolpinheiro19936 February 2016
Carol is a good film, with a very important subject, and the script never addresses it head on, rather with class, elegance and subtly.

It's a great love and life story about one woman fighting for her right to be happy and another trying to figure out how can she really be happy. Each of them is the answer to the other.

The script could feature more insight, but then again, the film is supposed to be subtle and let the images speak for themselves. The cinematography is outstanding and the score is downright superb. There's a feeling, a certain atmosphere that makes the film truly peculiar and one of a kind.

But in the end, i think that it all comes down to Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as they give unforgettable, brilliant performances. They are always perfect of course, but here there's something one of a kind about their performances. Its not only the characters that fall in love with each other, but also you who fall in love with them.

Its charming, important, powerful, resonant, and features two one of kind performances.
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Achingly tender romance about how love is a part of the human condition.
Sergeant_Tibbs31 October 2015
It's an inevitability that Carol will face categorisation as an LGBT film, but that's not the limits of how it should be considered. It's simply a heartfelt and deeply human love story where the principle couple confronts insurmountable odds. In Carol's case, these obstacles are the prejudices of the time and culture they live in. The film frames this discrimination in a tangible and legal way, as the titular Carol is accused of a morally indecent lifestyle by her ex-husband in order to win custody of their daughter. The film isn't interested in being a courtroom drama though, instead focusing on the blossoming relationship between Rooney Mara's Therese and Cate Blanchett's Carol.

Todd Haynes is known for his heightened style that evokes the melodrama of Douglas Sirk, for instance. His 2002 film Far From Heaven feels plucked from the cinema of the 1950s. However, Carol is a film that feels plucked from the New York streets of the 1950s as the aesthetic here is surprisingly naturalistic. It doesn't quite breach a documentary-esque style with Edward Lachman's understated and pleasantly grainy cinematography, but it all comes organically and authentically with the elegant fashion of production and costume design and the atmosphere that its cold Christmas setting provides. It's a very restrained film – as there are only two particularly intimate scenes – but the film carries an air of sexual and romantic tension throughout.

As Carol, Cate Blanchett challenges her polar opposite and equally excellent work with Haynes as a Bob Dylan incarnation in I'm Not There here. By nature of the film's structure, the first half is in the perspective of Therese and the second focuses on the perspective of Carol. There's an interesting inaccessibility about Blanchett in the first half that draws you into Therese's infatuation. Mara, one of the most promising actresses of this decade since her small memorable part in The Social Network, uses her own reserved detachness – something she's been frequently criticised for – to her own advantage. To watch someone like Therese open up after being so repressed is thoroughly cathartic.

However, Blanchett whips the film from under her feet in the second half. She litters the first half of the film with nuanced hints and clues to her past desires, also communicating so much with very little. She's elusive, but Mara is a key source of intrigue at that point due to the honesty in her performance and unexpected dry wit. Once Carol is struggling to deal with her own internal conflicts, Blanchett is on fire and burns the house down with her ultimate rebuttal of the accusations against her. Kyle Chandler, her suffering husband soon to be ex-husband, shows such painful anguish in his brief outbursts. It's a measured performance that anchors the film and the stakes of the relationships. Every performance of the ensemble – from extras to bit parts – are delivering among their finest work.

It's an all-rounder in terms of Oscar-contention, with Haynes perhaps being a more likely bet for Best Director than the film is for Best Picture. Blanchett has won too recently but if Weinstein works his magic, Mara would be a strong contender in either leading or supporting. Phyllis Nagy will certainly duel with Aaron Sorkin in Best Adapted Screenplay, even if her work is more patient, while the production and costume design ought to destroy competition. A sure bet should be Carter Burwell for his beautiful score that sunk my chest with its few powerful notes. It's an achingly tender film that will be timeless, even if it doesn't resonate with everyone with such specificity. Carol shouldn't just be a statement for our time and a condemnation for past mistakes, it's a demonstration that love is a part of the human condition regardless of sexuality.

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Great in every way!
Nxlly9 October 2015
Thanks to the New York Film Festival I got the chance to see this perfectly crafted film early.

Carol's nothing short of fantastic. It's story is one of the best romances i've seen put on the big screen. What I love is how nobody makes it a big fuzz about the two lovers being females. It's treated with the same respect as any other romantic drama, and it's done better than most of them.

The film is on another level when the two leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are on screen together. Both undoubtedly gave two of the best performances of the year.

It's pace is slow, but never boring. Giving us some intense slow-building moments that leaves us smiling or shedding tears.

Carol's great. Watch it.
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This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for Carol
laweat21 November 2015
Others have already mentioned the film's beauty, elegance, attention to period detail, acting etc. All amazing. As a gay man "of a certain age" I felt deep gratitude for the gift given by the artists who created this film. The direction is so subtle and effective, using the all the tools of film making to communicate information, meaning, and emotion.

Like Brokeback Mountain, this film turns cliché on its head and transcends the particulars of the protagonists' lives by illuminating more universal themes. It is a period/genre film that acts to balance well established tropes of its genre, a powerful corrective to SO MANY previous films that repeated the same old false, stereotypical, and often tragic images of gay lives. Beyond merely telling some real truth, Carol has so much to say about strength, resilience, and the possibility of finding joy in difficult circumstances. As such, it was deeply satisfying to this viewer.
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A disappointing film with very little emotional content
alexlangholm8 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
**WARNING: Contains plot spoilers**

I don't normally write reviews but this is a case where the critics seem to be totally disconnected from what they are supposed to be reviewing. It is weird to see so little dissent in the press about this film. Carol has many good points but more bad points.

The good points are the amazing production design and costumes, and the interesting 16mm cinematography (which does get quite grainy at times). The technical side of things is fine, it looks very beautiful and old-fashioned.

The main problem is that there just isn't any emotional connection established between the two main characters, or between anyone really. The film doesn't make you care about people or their fates, and doesn't explain why they would care about each other.

The very first meeting between Carol and Therese highlights this. Carol tries to seduce Therese because... well, she just does, from the very first moment she lays eyes on her in the department store. We don't know why, Carol has never met her before so presumably it's just because Therese is young and pretty. We don't even see Carol reacting to Therese's beauty, Carol just has this predatory gaze from the very first frame, as if she was determined to find someone, anyone. How much sympathy would we feel for a middle-aged married man doing these things instead of Carol?

Because of the way the story unfolds, it is also very hard to shake the feeling that Carol is a rich person who is, in the end, able to get whatever she wants.

There ought to be sympathy for Carol being stuck in a dead marriage, but she is getting divorced and already having an affair.

There ought to be sympathy for Carol losing custody of her daughter Rindy, but we never really see the mother-daughter relationship enough to understand what this means to her. For example, in the first scene Carol buys her daughter a train set instead of a doll in order to impress the young shop assistant that she lusts after. We later see Carol playing with the train set by herself while thinking of her own problems, we never see the daughter using it. The daughter seems to be little more than a plot device or a prop.

There ought to be sympathy for gay lovers being parted by a bigoted 1950s society, but we never really see them as lovers. We see them make love, but there isn't really a scene where they display any kind of chemistry or deep affection. They come together because... well, they just do. To make matters worse, they split up almost as soon as they have got together, so we don't really get the time to feel anything significant has been lost.

The saddest part is when Carol dumps Therese so she can go to fight for her daughter's custody, but then when, thanks to her lawyer's manoeuvrings, Carol has a realistic chance of getting joint custody of her daughter, she waives her rights to it. Why? Because it means she can avoid the hassle of a nasty court case. How deep can Carol's love for Rindy or Therese really be if these are her priorities? And why tell us that the custody of Rindy means so much, more than her love for Therese, and then show her abandoning custody? Perhaps the novel explains why this makes sense, but the film certainly doesn't.

The two hour running time should have been long enough to get proper emotional connections built up, but instead the director squanders it on overextended scenes that should have been much shorter. It makes the whole film drag on without any character development.

At one point Carol's husband Hodge has a door slammed in his face, it ends on a nice shot of his partially-covered features, but it then goes on to show him walking away from the house, getting in a car and driving off. Extending the scene didn't serve any purpose, we know he's annoyed and isolated but he's been annoyed and isolated for the entire film. Another example has Carol and Therese arriving in a hotel, they enter the lobby, they enter the room, they admire the room and then... it cuts to them leaving the hotel. What did we learn about them from this? That they enjoy the decor of expensive hotels? Wouldn't, for example, adding a scene earlier in the film showing Carol doing nothing but playing with her daughter Rindy been a better way to build up the emotional stakes?

"Carol" seems to be the kind of film where the subject matter and the reputation of the participants has totally replaced objective assessment of the work itself.

Gay rights are important, Blanchett is a great actor and Haynes is a great director. "Carol" is not an important or great film though, it's telling the story of an affair without telling us why the affair happened or why we should care. Its reviews seem to be based on what "Carol" should have been, rather than what it actually is.
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Simply beautiful
artscommented7 November 2015
I watched Carol at the New York Film Festival, days after watching Freeheld. Since both movies talk about love relationship between two women, I was afraid I was going to see the same thing. Gladly, I couldn't be more wrong. Carol is such a beautiful movie, subtler than I had expected.

Even though I loved the movie, I'm aware that it's not for everybody. It's not fast paced, as current films tend to be. It takes its time to carefully construct the characters and to make us root for them. Credit is due to the cast, as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are brilliant, and to the director Todd Haynes, who conducts well the story.

Moreover, the film is visually stunning, with impeccable make-ups and wardrobes, not to mention the beautiful locations covered in snow while they take a road-trip. Finally, the soundtrack is equally wonderful, with songs that correctly set the tone of their relationship.

It probably won't be a box office hit, but I do hope everybody gets a chance to see it eventually.

Full review:
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gsygsy9 November 2015
A perfect marriage of director and material, I can't think of anyone else but Todd Haynes for this story of love and desire blossoming in a desert of repression. Set in the era of the McCarthy witchhunts and the post-war obsession with - one might as well call it panic about- gender roles, CAROL is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. Playwright Phyllis Nagy's screenplay pays Highsmith the compliment of maintaining the psychological conflicts and complexities. In particular, the character of Carol's conventional husband, Harge (played by Kyle Chandler) could have, in lesser hands, received much shorter shrift than here.

Beautifully photographed, designed, edited, scored and acted, there's no reason to give it anything less than full marks. I was completely engrossed by it from start to finish.
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One of the Most Overrated Films of the Year
JaysonT20 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I had been looking forward to this film for months, and upon finally viewing it- it's a huge disappointment. Todd Haynes, who's finest achievement is still Far From Heaven (2002), has a knack for creating intimate atmospheres with radiant colors and backdrops. Like Far from Heaven, he succeeds with the aesthetic values of the 1950s by giving us refined art direction and beautiful costumes. Unlike Far from Heaven, we are given wooden characters and a predictable script, with a score by Carter Burwell that sounds exactly like Philip Glass's creation for The Hours (2002).

Rooney Mara works in a department store, and finds herself attracted to Cate Blanchett, a well to do married woman who flirts with her while shopping for Christmas presents. Later they have lunch, and in the only truly well acted scene in the film, seem to connect almost instantaneously. The dialogue here is cleverly limited- so we can instead watch the suggestive gestures of both characters that indicate sexual attraction- and tension. It's too bad this is the only scene I felt was able to capture this. The rest of the movie unfolds like a poorly written episode of the series Mad Men, as the women keep meeting up secretly whilst the husband gets suspicious and even hires a detective to follow them to a hotel so he can later gain custody of Blanchett's child. This is because homosexuality is "naughty".

Perhaps the reason I felt bored watching Carol was that the material is old and tired. Sexual repression in the 50s? We've seen this so many times. Brokeback Mountain (2005) also dealt with homosexuality with two men- and with much sharper direction and a more interesting story. The actors there were also more believable. Speaking of the acting, Cate Blanchett is indeed the standout. She's not nearly as strong as I had heard or hoped for, but she's none the less ravishing and breathtaking to gaze upon. She's at the peek of her career now, with 2 Oscars under her belt, and indeed Carol should easily earn her a deserved 7th nomination. But besides a juicy scene towards the end, the character isn't that intriguing. There's a lot to be desired, and that easily could be the fault of the screenwriter (Phyllis Nagy), who adapted the script. Yes I get it- it's supposed to be subtle, but this character felt empty. Blanchett is a fine actress- we could have gotten some more fire from her character.

Rooney Mara is even more flat. She relies simply on her pretty face. I kept thinking Natalie Portman would have exuded so much more energy with the role, since both women have similar physical dynamics to their facial structures. Mara just comes off weak. There's not an ounce of integrity or feeling coming through with this performance. If that's how she was supposed to play it, then the fault lies in the director. How she won at Cannes is beyond me. She's not impressive at all. She's pretty, but that doesn't constitute good acting.

The rest of the cast is easily forgettable. Sarah Paulson has a thankless role, and she's usually very good (watch her in 12 Years a Slave). Mara's boyfriend is the worst acting I've seen all year; very high school drama club. Everyone else is going through their lines in a robotic tone.

This could have been an exceptional film. And I'm in the minority who didn't like it (it's currently one of the top reviewed films of 2015, and destined to be crowned with nominations on Oscar morning). But it left me feeling cold, and bored. I might just be sick of seeing movies about the 1950s and how everyone couldn't "talk about things like being gay, and sex, and racial relations" back then. The subject has been hammered over my head too many times. But the trailer for this movie was a love letter. Why couldn't the movie be the same? Mara and Blanchett are supposed to be in love, and yet their first meeting aside- I never really felt a true connection between them. There was never enough juice in their chemistry for me to believe it.
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Lovely movie, subtle, must see
ldeveth9 November 2015
I had the chance to see this movie during the Dutch film festival.

I want to start by saying that this is a "must see". I am very critical about my lady loving movies, and the way Cate and Rooney portray their characters, and their on screen chemistry is absolutely breathtaking.

Rooney and Cate captured what it's like to be falling in love. You'll get taken away with how this all develops and affects their lives.

It's an easy-going, subtle movie but never gets dull, it keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Also the parts played by Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler are worth mentioning. It's been a while, if ever, since such a loving movie was released in this genre.
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An Affair to Forget
thesar-213 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Apparently, the novel this movie's based on came out more than half a century ago and the movie version should've been released in about half that time in order to be fresh, daring, original or topical. But, today, it's just out of place.

Sure, Carol, the movie that is, shows us a ton of 1950s women who like to smoke and eat in restaurants. Repeatedly. It's a wonder none of them coughed once or gained weight since that was the bulk of the film. In between those smoking and eating scenes were dry spells of two character drawn to each other for chance coincidence of two women liking other women. As good of actresses as the leads are, I never bought their chemistry or depth other than they both happened to be lesbians.

Basically – and that's what this is, basic – two women meet. One rich, the other aimless. One getting divorced, the other clinging onto affection. Suddenly there's a road trip to clear the title character's mind after the thought she might lose custody of her child in the divorce. Forced romance ensues and…the rest is spoilers, albeit obvious.

I didn't find the story compelling, or even interesting enough to care about any of the characters. Rooney Mara's Therese, the lost one, spends the grand majority of the film just staring off into nothingness while, I suppose, we're supposed to see depth in her. (Hint: I didn't.) Cate Blanchett's Carol, the richie one, seems to be in another movie, in another room, just reading lines from the script.

It would be easy just to call this movie boring and dismiss it. But, it really is that. Barely anything happens and the stuff that does, I've seen countless times before in both gay and straight forbidden love films. Only, those movies had complexity, decent to great cinematography and chemistry between the leads…so we could, you know, root for the forbidden love.

Hell, this one was so dry, I was only told the mother, Carol, is heartbroken she can't see her child after the divorce. I never once believed Carol couldn't live without her daughter. She was, again, just reading her lines.

Sadly, I don't have much positive to say about this. I wanted to like Blanchett, as I almost always do, but I didn't. I wanted to marvel, once again, at Mara, but she seemed as lost as her character. I did, however, really like the ex-lover character of Abby, played by the wonderful American Horror Story regular, Sarah Paulson. She would be my only vote here for an award nomination. But, even then, I wouldn't be voting for her underused part.

I didn't hate this, or even really dislike it that much. I would've had to care more to think that hard on it. It's just a movie I do regret seeing and won't be visiting Carol again.
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you're trembling..
Arth_Joshi11 February 2018

Gazing each other across the room or touching someone for the first time or even talk about them to someone else is depicted as electrifying as it is in real life and this is something that very few of them can achieve. Carol is a suave and mild love story that is too practical to be a film and still Todd Haynes pulls it off with Phyllis Nagy's smart adaptation from the novel with enough drama for the audience to rely upon for 2 whole hours. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are the keys that withholds the audience throughout the movie with a great supporting cast like Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler. Carol as mentioned earlier is electrifying mortified portrayal of two stellar performances that subdued the smart writing, perfect editing and horrific emotions running in each and every scene in it.
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A masterpiece that's tough, tender and thoughtful, anchored by a love story for the ages.
shawneofthedead4 December 2015
These days, it's hard to be surprised by a love story in a film. There shouldn't even be much of a surprise to the love story that forms the heart and soul of CAROL – anyone who walks into the cinema will know that this is The Movie In Which Cate Blanchett And Rooney Mara Play Lesbians. And yet, Todd Haynes' masterful, intoxicating film unfolds in a series of small, subtle surprises, culminating in one of the most profoundly affecting romances ever committed to film.

New York, in the early 1950s. Therese (Mara) is working as a shopgirl in the toy section of a department store. She meets and serves dozens of people, but only one catches her eye: Carol (Blanchett), a poised, polished and seemingly perfect example of the many wives and mothers who frequent the store. On Therese's recommendation, Carol buys a model train set for her daughter Rindy: an unusual Christmas present for a little girl that swiftly draws a connection between the two women.

Over the next hour, CAROL shades colour and complexity into the world in which Carol and Therese live. When they find each other again through a pair of gloves misplaced by accident (or, perhaps, design), the two women share lunch, and a tune played on a piano. Carol invites Therese to her family home and, eventually, on a road trip that changes everything. Therese confesses her love of photography, and begins to ask awkward questions of Richard (Jake Lacy), her devoted, if somewhat callous, boyfriend. Through it all, Carol's marriage to Harge (Kyle Chandler) crumbles apart, despite the fierce love they share for their daughter.

For much of its running time, Haynes' film – an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's groundbreaking second novel, The Price Of Salt – unfolds at a deliberately unhurried pace that might alienate some, and bore others. Dramatic outbursts are kept to a bare minimum, chiefly coming from a raging Harge as he tries ever more desperately to cajole (or bully) Carol into remaining by his side. The growing tenderness between Carol and Therese deepens, not through flowery confessions of undying love, but in the exchanging of tentative glimpses, glances and smiles.

And yet, the heartbreaking magic woven throughout CAROL comes from precisely these understated, measured moments. The aching, all- consuming affection between Carol and Therese blossoms in the film's pockets of silence, as they study each other in a mirror, or share a conspiratorial smile over breakfast. Threats of death and danger surface, but in purely emotional terms, resonating all the more powerfully for never being literal. Indeed, it's only when the film slips into its devastating final act – which simultaneously manages to warm hearts and shatter souls – that one begins to realise just how bewitching a spell CAROL has cast in the silences and in-betweens.

To top it all off, there is so much at work in Phyllis Nagy's wonderfully spare script that CAROL practically begs to be excavated, pored over and studied at length. The love story at its heart works because CAROL is a film about two women who are making their way towards each other through a world that often refuses to understand, accept or acknowledge them: not just as potential lovers, but also as people. Entire novels can be written about the film's excellent feminist and queer credentials, particularly when it comes to shining a spotlight on its women and their relationships (including a powerful supporting turn by Sarah Paulson as Abby, Carol's best friend and erstwhile paramour).

It seems profoundly unnecessary to say that CAROL's trump card is Blanchett. It should be self-evident, a given – after all, for as long as she has made movies, she has unquestionably been the best thing about any film she's in. And yet, she is completely transcendent here. In Blanchett's hands, Carol manages to be unearthly – an exalted goddess on a pedestal – and utterly, completely human at the same time. In a wonderfully layered final scene with Harge, Carol's controlled composure cracks apart, revealing the punishing depth of the pain she must undergo in order to be true to herself. Blanchett conveys it all with heartbreak to spare, radiating love, joy, misery or despair with barely perceptible changes in expression.

Mara, meanwhile, gives her finest performance to date. Her Therese lingers quietly at the edges of her own life, not so much pushing limits as slipping past them to find her own way. It's hard to shake the feeling, though, that Mara remains outclassed by her co-star. Unlike Carol, Therese never completely coalesces as a character in her own right. To be fair to Mara, that's partly due to one of the script's few flaws. In a film that is otherwise so subtle and considered, we are too often told rather than shown that Carol finds Therese irresistible. (There is no such problem in believing that anyone could fall head over heels for Carol.)

Nevertheless, the chemistry between Blanchett and Mara burns, slowly but brightly. The electricity between them throws off more sparks as the film goes on – to the point that audiences will find their hearts stuttering and stopping at the tiniest of moments: when Carol presses her hand lightly on Therese's shoulder, or when their eyes meet, finally, across a crowded room.

In all of these elements, and in ways big and small, CAROL constantly surprises. It could have been ripely melodramatic; instead, it lingers in a key of melancholy realism. In another universe, Carol might have been more manipulative, Harge more villainous, Therese more coquettish, the love story less compelling and more titillating. The film's themes could have overwhelmed its central romance. And yet, in every gorgeous frame (composed with impeccable grace by cinematographer Edward Lachman), CAROL sings of its love story: one that is as sweet as it is bitter, as simple as it is complex, and as real as it is magical.
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Carol is a dull affair!
swilliky17 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I'm at a loss with this movie. I went to the late showing last night, which was a mistake because this drama about two lovers persecuted by ignorance and misogyny will exploit any fatigue you have and try desperately to put you to sleep. I struggle through nearly two hours of this movie and eventually gave up and left figuring that not much else would happen as nothing did happen throughout the entire first three quarters. I went and read some spoiler discussion on it on a clickbait website to find that I didn't miss much.

Don't get me wrong, these actresses are at the top of their game with strong performances by both lead Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. It's the script that seems dull to me. The drama and romance appear so distant and tension so boring that it was nearly impossible to get close to these characters and care. Check out more of this review and others at
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Beautiful. Slow. Dull.
Virilene-Manly24 October 2015
I'll try to be brief, since the film wasn't.

Visually, this was a satisfying film to watch. Like looking through an old photo album from the 1950s, beautifully shot.

Narratively, it was an utterly predictable story, without a single twist, every plot point telegraphed and seen miles in advance.

Rooney, reminiscent of a beautifully boyish young Demi Moore, was quite good, though her character's relationship to the boyfriend Richard was not particularly nuanced. A little more ambivalence on her character's part toward the relationship would've created some needed tension.

Blanchet was interesting, but in a one-dimensional kind of way. She was beautiful, but her manner and delivery seemed superficial and artificial. I'm a bit undecided as to whether these were traits with which she was intentionally trying to imbue the character of Carol, or whether this is how she plays all her characters.

This is a mainstream drama, a vehicle for the stars to garner Oscar nominations. A far cry from Haynes' far superior Far From Heaven, however. Watchable, for sure, but for me only once.
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Finally A Sapphic Romantic Film That Is Actually Amazing In More Ways Than One
QuinnElyas9014 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you have watched your fair share of lesbian movies, you'll understand the thirst for a lesbian love story that is well made and Carol pretty much is that game changer we've all been waiting for.

I won't give away too many spoilers because this movie is already quite predictable. It's a love story set in the 1950's America where homosexual romances were obviously forbidden so things can't get anymore surprising than that. There are a couple little unexpected moments here and there that formed the overall arc regarding Carol's battle over the custody of her daughter but other than that, this movie is quite slow-paced. Though, I would note that that is a good thing. It is this slow revelation that makes several key scenes very rewarding. One of which was the love scene. Having read the book, I was already aware that it would be like that so it wasn't particularly a big deal for me.

One thing I have always believed about this story just out of reading the book is that the storyline is quite simple. You have these two women falling in love with each other only to have a certain obstacle befall them but it is the complexity of their characters and what polar opposites of one another they are that feels the most intricate. Screenwriter,Phyllis Nagy did a great job honouring her late friend, author, Patricia Highsmith's book and it was evidently captured on screen with how much the movie felt like it was just as if though it had been any ordinary heteronormative film we see today.

Then there's Todd Haynes. I have never seen anything he has directed before but I'm sure the hype is valid because the direction and overall cinematography of this film was simply magnificent and a pleasure to watch. I was completely enraptured by every scene. I know many people have raved about how gorgeous this film was and I can't add anything more to that because that is pretty much the only word that does it justice.

Carter Burwell's score although repetitive at times was evocatively divine and meshed well with the era of the film. I would have loved if the piano theme song that played in the trailer had been in the film at some point.

Cate Blanchett as per usual is marvellous in this role. She is THE Carol that I have read in the book and she handles her character with such dexterity, going from steely cold and intimidating to a hopeless romantic/passionate lover and then to a desperate mother fighting for her child with such grace and poise. Rooney Mara on the other hand is rather spellbinding in this although I am sure I could imagine someone else as Therese too if I wanted. It is probably the fault with the character as it dwarfs opposite Carol. The supporting actors are worth mentioning too as Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson never fail to impress each time they are on screen albeit how little screen time they both had.

Which leads me to the ending and probably the most spoiler-ish part of the review. The ending is really the reason why this movie is getting plenty of Oscar buzz or so I think. It is the way that Todd was able to translate onto the big screen that crucial moment in the culmination of the story that left us, the audience speechless and wanting to know more when it cuts to black. The way he makes it feel like we were Therese looking at Carol and the way that he captured Carol looking over at her in those final close-on shots of her. My heart raced in that moment. It was only interpretive of one thing. A happy ending for a lesbian story that we have all been holding out for and it was done so perfectly.

"That's that."
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A Fine Film That Needs More Character
lloydmorgan11122217 January 2016
'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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a dull lifeless collection of overused shots and slower than snail storytelling
masteroftofu20 December 2015
I dunno if the people reviewing this even saw the same film, or if they're just studio execs boosting their own movies reviews for the sake of winning the upcoming awards, but this movie is garbage. Far from being academy award winning imo.

Cinematography: The director repeats the same shots of someone making overdramatic facial expressions through frosted glass through the entire film. It loses its effect after the 10th time, and by the end of the film its just plain annoying. As far as crafting a 50sesque feel, they succeeded. This film even looks like it was made in the 50s. Unlike the ever famous Madmen though, this is not a good thing

Storytelling: As I said in the summary line, this story moves slower than a snail caught in tar. From the getgo, it becomes obvious there is a lesbian affair going on here, but for the next hour plus, the plot never develops into anything more than this. In fact, we never even see any actual physical romance between the 2 leads.

Acting: I felt it got over the top a few times. Kate Blanchett is the type of actress that forgets shes not on the Broadway theater when shes doing cinema, and it can be really ridiculous at times. This is one of those times.

TL;dr version: this movie is a complete waste of time and the plot summary sums up the entire film to the point where you literally don't even need to watch it
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Carol Disappoints: Empty and Mundane
helen-5112221 December 2015
The movie "Carol," a lesbian romantic drama that is based on the book "The Price of Salt" by Patricia Highsmith, is getting named Best Film of the Year by just about everyone, it seems, and making all the award short-lists. And Helen is Highly disappointed. Let me add up front that the film was costumed by Sandy Powell, art directed by Jesse Rosenthal, and filmed by Edward Lachman, who will all likely (and deservingly) receive awards for their work here. But I have issues with director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy.

I saw "Carol" at the New York Film Festival, where just about every film was more interesting than this gigantic slice of Boring. After watching the film, I assumed most people would dislike it as much as I did, so I was shocked when I did a quick Google search and saw the Variety review pop up saying "High expectations don't quite prepare you for the startling impact of Carol, exquisitely drawn, deeply felt…" No way! My first order of business is to change Variety's intro line: "High expectations don't quite prepare you for": the slow emptiness of this mundane, overly precious, pointlessly detailed movie.

Listen, I adore Cate Blanchett as much as anyone. And no one can say she is not gorgeous. At one point in the film – at a party, her estranged husband concedes to her that she is the most beautiful woman in the room. Well, that never changes. She is the most beautiful and the best dressed and best groomed person in every scene. So, let's all agree to put Cate Blanchett's face in the dictionary under the word Perfection, and then we can all go home and save ourselves two hours of lifeless artifice. And if Cate were selling lipstick, or stockings, or fur coats, I would buy them all. But I would not recommend this movie to anyone.

I'm happy for Cate that she got such a glamorous star vehicle in which to show off. But why is no one else stating the obvious – that this is essentially a vanity project for Cate Blanchett? Unfortunately however, in this movie, we cannot see Cate's rich inner life through her the heavy cover of makeup and fur. Remember the episode on "Mad Men," where Don Draper is trying desperately to find the ideal, alluring model to put in his fur coat ad? Todd Haynes' Cate Blanchett should get that job! She is precisely what Don was looking for – an impossibly beautiful fantasy of aspirational glamor and exquisite opulence. Women want to be her and men want to have her exactly because she is so flawless and empty; you feel nothing for her as a character – no complicated emotions to ruin the high-gloss illusion. And honestly, Cate, you are better than this; you don't need to advertise your quintessential (surface) beauty. That Don Draper gig, and this movie, are beneath you; you can act.

This brings me to the lesbian theme of the story. Helen Highly objects to the portrayal of Carol and her younger lover (played by Rooney Mara) as a Hollywood male fantasy of woman-on-woman sexuality. Due to Haynes' decision to maintain the look-and-feel of a 1950s flick, the movie refrains from overtly explicit sex scenes, but still it has the tone of cheesy pin-up porn – made for men, and not about real-life women who have ambiguous thoughts and difficult feelings. Highsmith's 1953 book, "The Price of Salt," became a lesbian-romance cult-novel, due largely to its being the first authentic expression of lesbian love that did not have the punishing ending that was prescribed by 1950s morality. Highsmith was a lesbian herself (a fact she denied throughout most of her career), and this story is semi-autobiographical, telling the tale of when she was a shop girl who fell into a romantic obsession over an older married woman who was a customer at the store. But let's stop there for a moment. (Well, there's not much else to tell; the movie mostly repeats variations of the first scene.)

So many people are eager to say how this film is "important for women" – as if it were still the act of sexual bravery and social revelation it was in the 1950s. And that is simply not the case. Today, the storyline is outdated. The book was ground-breaking and radical; the movie is conventional and banal. And this is the fault of the screenplay, which does not capture the emotional intensity or poetic eroticism of the book.

The book meticulously detailed the interior lives of these two, passionate yet confused women; the film, instead, meticulously and ploddingly details a story that was only loosely referenced in the book (because Highsmith was interested in tortuous desire and fearful loneliness, not a who-gets-the-kid divorce case). In the movie that Nagy and Haynes made, the tale becomes a simplistic, self-righteous, politically-correct after-school-movie. Haynes attempts, it seems, to depict the women's emotions with an endless series of long, still- life gazes. And so it seems that Haynes cares more about his visual style than he does the psychology of his characters. And to those who like to say that "Carol" is comparable to "Strangers on a Train," I say: Yes, Hitchcock and Highsmith shared an affection for frosty blonds (perhaps Todd Haynes does as well). But Haynes is no Hitchcock. (And "Carol" is no thriller.) Hitchcock knew how to make an ice-queen come alive on the screen, BUT he also understood plot; he knew what was a compelling story and what was not. "Carol" is not. So, Cate Blanchett and Todd Haynes can wish she were Grace Kelly or Kim Novak all day long, but she's not going to touch a hair of their blond locks with this script and this director.
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I never knew lesbians were so boring
neil-47611 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In 1950s America, Carol is nearing the end of a quietly unhappy marriage to Harge, and trying to retain custody of their daughter Rindy. There is a morality clause and Carol's lesbian tendencies bring this to bear, especially when she falls for Therese, and a relationship gradually begins to blossom.

I was expecting great things from this film: Cate Blanchett as Carol and Rooney Mara as Therese have both been getting glowing notices. And those notices are richly deserved: both women are first rate. I wish I could say the same for the film. There are two strong plot elements here: the legal wrangle and the growing (and forbidden) relationship. The film should have been electrifying. But it is slow and, regrettably, boring. I know that you don't have to take a film at breakneck speed but, given the drama inherent in the two major plot threads, not only does not very much happen, it happens very slowly.

I'm sure this will be up for bags of awards (I get the impression that it regards itself as Important), but I was disappointed.
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Definitely not one of the best movies of 2015?
baddah28 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand why this movies is so overrated, it is a boring love story, the only difference from a usual boring love story is the same-sex concept.

The name of Todd Haynes made me expect a movie as emotionally intense as Far From Heaven (2002). Now, I realise it was just wishful thinking. I think Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) does not fall for Carol (Cate Blanchett), she desires all the riches she possess and this leads her to feel something unexplainable towards Carol, for me that seems definitely not love. Whatever it is, it should have been described more thoroughly. Only after a short period of time both characters are presented to us, they start to love each other, and to prove they're in love, they move slowly, and as if that was the real thing, toward the moment when they share the same bed, have sex. That's OK with me but where is passion, where is love, and why so quick we don't know anything about the characters.

To sum up, I was absolutely disappointed because in no way Carol met my expectations. The story telling makes it difficult to understand what is going on; when and how those people fell in love, the husband who is he, why does he want Carol back even though he knows her preferences and she does not love him, the lover of Therese he suddenly comes into the scene then disappears, and lots of similar pointless stuff. Costumes are great, though. And finally, please stop taking part in projects you don't believe in with only the intention of getting an award. Famous actresses making out does not make a great movie, it needs more than that.
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Carol is boring
JankiSharma24 December 2015
I saw the movie Carol and am extremely disappointed. Cate Blanchett as Carol was stylish. Screenplay is very weak. There is very little conversation between Carol and Therese (Rooney Mara). The movie is too long. The scenes are dragged. There is no substance in the movie. Cate Blanchett was great in movies Notes on a scandal and of course Blue Jasmine. In this movie , her style is obvious in her clothes, in her voice , in her gait but there are no dialog or conversation. The movie is poorly edited . I did not enjoy the movie. Rooney Mara was good . Rooney Mara's role was better than Cates Blanchett role. But on the whole, not even nomination worthy. Really boring movie. Weak.
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An essence and definition of love
SvetoslavGrigorov26 December 2015
Imagine how The Blue Angel Marlene Dietrich meets Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's. Two goddesses in love affair. An essence and definition of love in its core distilled through different bodies and remaining a mutual enjoying of the heart. There is some cold classical feeling from the 30's in this movie, though it was set in the early 1950s in the McCarthy's era of witch-hunts. No answers are provided here and no stretched details. All is centred around Kate Blanchet and Rooney Mara.What you have to do is just to sit down,relax and enjoy the smoky narrative with a scarce dialogue.The 16 mm grainy picture, Sandy Powell's period costumes , cinematography and film editing from Edward Lachman and Affonso Gonçalves ,all well fitted in Patricia Highsmith's "The Price Of Salt" novel deliver a new conversation between the movie and the viewer. It's not about others but it's all about us. This message is truly important these days. No satisfaction in the sense and laws of tradition but how tradition have shaped us to rethink the history. As John Grant sings in Glacier "Don't listen to anyone, get answers on your own/Even if it means that sometimes you feel quite alone,No one on this planet can tell you what to believe,People like to talk a lot, and they like to deceive". There are echoes of other movies here such as the cold sentimentality of Savage Grace , Far From Heaven (from same director Todd Haynes) - another forbidden love story, Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man - both tragic waste of lives. Carol in some ways captures few finest moments from all these movies but as mentioned before it transcends one step further. It neutralises the bitter ends replacing it with hope. It's not the usual Hollywood hope but your own personal hope.It inspires you to decide,design and photograph your life. Don't wait,do it now!
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Masterful cinematography, bravura acting and classic production design can't save old hat tale of lesbian romance
Turfseer15 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike the sentimental melodrama "Brooklyn," Director Todd Haynes has fashioned a more salacious tale based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel "The Price of Salt" (later named "Carol"). Like his predecessor, Douglas Sirk, the grandmaster of the 1950s melodrama, you can always count on Haynes to deliver the goods in terms of brilliant cinematography, bravura acting (this time provided by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) as well as a production design that magnificently recreates the heady days of the early 1950s, just as Dwight D. Eisenhower ascends the "throne" of the American presidency for the first time. Despite all the positives, why then is "Carol" simply "average" and mediocre to boot?

When Highsmith's novel came out in 1952, a lesbian romance was considered fairly scandalous. Indeed, when the film's protagonist, Carol Aird, begins a lesbian affair with salesgirl Therese Belivet, the villain of the piece, Carol's rather mean and pathetic husband, Harge, invokes a "morality clause," permitting him to gain full custody of the couple's young daughter, Rindy, without the possibility of Carol having any visitation rights.

Carol's ensuing decision to get away from it all and inviting Therese on a sensual whirlwind of a cross country car trip may have been shocking for 1950s readers, but today it feels like old hat. We're supposed to get excited about the two lovers' intense desire for one another but what's so original about a lesbian romance? It's simply not enough on which to hang your hat on for an entire movie. True, at the midpoint, there is a welcome plot twist involving Harge, who hires a private investigator to tape record Carol and Therese as they make love in the "presidential suite" of a cheap motel.

But what happens after that? Spoilers AHEAD. Carol goes back to Harge but eventually (wouldn't you know it?) is unable to shake her love and lust for dear Therese, and it's postulated at the climax that indeed they will once again reunite. The uncreative ending -- which really needed some kind of extraordinary twist -- leaves the two lovers staring at one another in a fancy hotel restaurant, as the screen fades to black. I suppose the non-stop "passion" between the two principals is what has seduced both critics and the average film-goer alike into declaring that this is some kind of masterpiece. But in reality Mr. Haynes should be applauded only for creating an impressive atmosphere— mere attraction (no matter how intense it is), is not enough for us to care about characters that are in need of much more detailed development.
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