by Alan Yudman
At its core, else CAROL is a love story. But I got a lot more out of it than two women falling in love. It is also a commentary on how members of the LGBT community were scorned during the early 1950’s. The luminous Cate Blanchett is Carol, a married woman who clearly does not want to be married to her husband (Kyle Chandler). She meets Rooney Mara’s Therese who works as a store clerk. they first notice each other in that “lock eyes across the room” way. Carol pursues and Therese is intrigued and willing prey. She is not happy about much in her life. Not her job, nor her boyfriend. So the two ladies hit it off, have lunch, a few more meetings before they head off on a drive across the United States. Their bond goes stronger as Carol continues to deal with things at home. Her husband wants sole custody of their daughter because of Carol’s “moral turpitude”. She loves women and doesn’t really love him. She is put through the ringer and looked at with scorn by all involved. She is forced to see a psychotherapist to “fix” her. Therese seem at once confused and intrigued. She asks her boyfriend if he’s ever loved a boy, and he dismisses the notion as outrageous. A sign of the times. Todd Haynes direction is perfect, capturing each moment and lingering just long enough to read faces and what is behind the mask. The production design and cinematography by Judy Becker and Edward Lachman are gorgeous. The look of the film is captivating and every shot of Blanchett makes her look alluring, desirable but troubled. Chandler and Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma from GOTHAM) are great. Chandler plays against his nice guy type, but his bad behavior is born more out of confusion than evil. Smith is loathsome as a private detective who spies on Carol and Therese. But this is Blanchett and Mara’s movie. They compliment each other rather than trying to chew the scenes away from each other. Blanchett can say more with a look or a smile than pages of dialogue. Mara is mesmerizing. You feel her tortured confusion, her lack of direction while at the same time she is eager to please. The movie does get a bit preachy, but it’s not distracting and given the subject matter it is understandable. One warning for anyone thinking of bringing a child to see this, it is an adult movie. There is a love scene between Blanchett and Mara. It is not exploitive, but it is graphic. I’m sure both Blanchett and Mara will get acting and supporting acting nods. Both are nominated for Golden Globes and SAG Awards. CAROL will touch your mind and your heart. What more can you ask for.