|CAROL (director: Todd Haynes; screenwriter: based on the Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt"/Phyllis Nagy; cinematographer: Ed Lachman; editor: Affonso Goncalves; music: Carter Burwell; cast: Cate Blanchett (Carol Aird), Rooney Mara (Therese Belivet), Kyle Chandler (Harge Aird), Michael Haney (John Aird), Sarah Paulson (Abby Gerhard), Jake Lacy (Richard Semco), John Magaro (Dannie McElroy), Cory Michael Smith (Tommy Tucker), Carrie Brownstein (Genevieve Cantrell), Kevin Crowley (Fred Haymes), Nik Pajic (Phil McElroy), Sadie Heim (Rindy Aird); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Christine Vachon; The Weinstein Company; 2015)|
|"It's the measured performances by
co-stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara that
make this film special."
by Dennis Schwartz
perfectly conceived unexpected lesbian love affair
narrative set in NYC, in 1952, built around a familiar
narrative over a failing marriage and spiteful split
on the part of the husband. The main flaw in the
intelligent and elegant melodrama was its studied
graphic lesbian love scene, that looked more
like good acting than a passionate love-making scene.
Otherwise this is a great film, one that's visually
stunning, well-acted and awesomely directed by the
idiosyncratic Todd Haynes ("I'm Not
There"/"Far From Heaven"/"Velvet Goldmine"). It's based
on the acclaimed crime writer Patricia
Highsmith's 1952 novel "The Price of Salt," and
is superbly written by Phyllis Nagy.
But it's the measured performances by co-stars Cate
Blanchett and Rooney Mara that make this film special.
timid 20ish virgin Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara)
resides alone and works as a sales clerk in the doll
department of a Macy's like Manhattan department
store. She aspires for a more fulfilling life as a
photographer, and is in a relationship with a pushy
guy named Richard (Jake Lacy) who wants
to bully her into marrying him. A chic middle-aged
woman of wealth, the New Jersey suburbanite, Carol
Aird (Cate Blanchett), shops for a
Christmas present for her pampered young daughter
Rindy (Sadie Heim), and has a train set
delivered to her home address. When Therese returns
the gloves Carol leaves on the counter, the ladies
meet for lunch. We find out that Carol is seeking a
divorce from her rich, heavy drinking,possessive,
dullard, upper-class husband Harge (Kyle
Chandler), and her convenient loveless marriage
has turned bitter because hubby can't let her go and
holds her hostage by threatening to deny her visiting
rights to their child. Carol has just ended a
five-year fling with her childhood girlfriend Abby (Sarah
Paulson), which Harge brings up in the custody
fight for sole possession. He claims his wife is
morally unfit to raise the child because of her affair
with Abby. Conflicted about giving up the child, the
only thing she liked about the marriage, the lonely
woman drags the wide-eyed innocent Therese with her
for a holiday drive to the Midwest where Therese has
her first sexual encounter. That affair is documented
on film by the sleazy private detective (Cory
Michael Smith) hired by Harge.
pic explores the difficulties of being a
lesbian in the repressed Eisenhower
era, how the desires of both ladies are viewed
as sinful in those moralistic times, and how uptight
the upper-class is in its persistence of maintaining
its privileged status.
It's a meticulous adaptation of the novel, one that pleases us with its sensual use of colors on camera and its intimate way of framing scenes. It offers a nuanced screenplay, and a love story that is emotionally challenging.
REVIEWED ON 12/2/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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