Review: Carol, A Stunning Film About Love And Its Sacrifices
Director: Todd Haynes
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson
From the beautiful style it was shot in to the extraordinary performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol is a divine story about love, life and the sacrifices we make in staying true to our hearts. Carol is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt and director Todd Haynes has transferred the beautifully written words and intriguing characters with style and grace.
The story revolves around an older woman Carol (Cate Blanchett), who meets a sales woman (Rooney Mara) one day whilst shopping for her daughter’s Christmas present. It’s love at first sight but the film takes its time diving into Carol and Therese’s worlds. We are first introduced to each of their lives separately, with glimpses of their home life. Slowly and intimately, we see their worlds melt together. At the time their love affair was the ultimate taboo and Haynes does well in allowing it to coat the entire film without explaining the “taboo” directly. The word homosexual, gay or lesbian is not uttered once, but the stigma of it lures in the background, ready to tear the two women apart. With Carol’s soon to be ex-husband pressuring her to stay with him, he soon finds the two women are spending an awful lot of time together and he threatens to stop Carol from seeing their child.
Todd Haynes has done something that is almost impossible to do in telling this story. He has made it the most intimate of films by shooting it from the outside looking in. We are a spectator to the affair and yet we feel so closely involved in it. One way Haynes has achieved this is by shooting through windows to examine the characters in a hazy focus. He repeats this method through all of the car scenes. At times the character’s faces are hard to read or focus on and it makes it all the more interesting and intriguing.
When Carol and Therese finally admit their feelings to each other, although it has been obvious from the beginning, you can feel yourself succumbing to the intensity and the pressure that has been building for almost an hour. As they navigate their way through their feelings and their consequences, you become increasingly nervous for the women.
In the trailer for the film you hear Carol’s voice as she narrates a letter she has written to Therese. You have the feeling that this love affair will of course come full circle and end. Although the final 15 minutes must remain a surprise, there is a 50/50 chance that your tears will be due to heartache or happiness.
Carol is one of the most honest, delicate, passionate and heartbreaking films of the year. It took 11 years for this film to be made with different directors and actresses attached to it at various stages. However, if waiting over a decade meant that Todd Haynes, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were a part of this film, then it’s the best wait for the movies we have ever had.