Carol – Todd Haynes

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Photo credit: Wilson Webb/The Weinstein Company

If all you’re looking for is a nice, sleepy, Oscar-nominated musical score by the guy who does all the Coen Brothers’ movies and some slick production design, then Carol is the movie for you. To say this movie starts out slow is an understatement; and to some, the entire two-hours of this 1950’s love story will be torture to watch. The sad reality of Carol is that it will not appeal to everyone, but those who live for the Oscar categories of costume design, cinematography, and production design will be completely engaged. For this movie to captivate you, you need to be very patient and you need to be the type to appreciate the art of film-making and film direction.

Based on the novel “The Price of Salt”, Carol tells the story of two women – a young one (Rooney Mara) who doesn’t yet know who she is, and the older, unhappy one (Cate Blanchett) who she falls head over heels in love with. It’s the 1950’s, so lesbian love is not something that is widely accepted or tolerated to a great degree. The main point of drama is the fact that Carol’s husband (from whom she is separated) is trying to get their daughter taken away from her because of her pattern of “inappropriate behaviour” with women – which also doubles as a silly attempt to “get her back” because if he can’t have her, no one else should, especially not a woman.

The reviews from both critics and viewers have been very positive, but it truly takes a certain type of movie-watcher to appreciate the subtleties of the performances and the artistry of the film-making. It won’t knock your socks off unless this is the only thing you look for in a movie experience. It’s unfortunate, but the general population just won’t see the tragic beauty in Carol and the love story will be lost among the countless scenes of silence, frustratingly long gazes, and the general lack of climax.

Cate Blanchett’s performance is good, there is no question, but compared to her other Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated performances (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, Elizabeth, etc.), this is nothing special and certainly not something the masses can get behind. Aside from one steamy lesbian love-making scene, there are only a couple other scenes that stand out. Like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett could be nominated every time because she’s just that good, but maybe the standards should have been set a little higher for her this time. All in all, Carol is walking away with two acting nominations (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), and four others for its cinematography, musical score, costume design, and screenplay (adapted).

The many accolades it has received from prestigious film festivals proves that, in a way, Carol is just like poetry – a select few find it beautiful, powerful, and deep, and most others will just be bored and unimpressed.

Carol opened in limited release in the USA in November 2015 and Canada in December 2015. Worldwide gross is only $29M to date and it can still be found playing in some theatres leading up to the Oscars on February 28, 2016.

Watch the official trailer here:

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