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Slideshow

CAROL

U.S./UK, 2015
Directed by Todd Haynes
Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler
Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
35mm. Approx. 118 min.


1950s department store clerk Rooney Mara catches the eye of, and is obsessed with blonde, fur-coated suburban mom Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’s smoldering adaptation of Highsmith’s second novel (published pseudonymously – to avoid Highsmith being branded a “lesbian-book writer,” as she put it – as The Price of Salt). “CAROL… seems to exist entirely in the present moment—to be precise, in that electric, elastic, heart-stopping/heart-racing present of romantic desire. It is a film composed of gestures and glances, its delicacy a veiled promise of abandon.” (Amy Taubin, Film Comment)

Reviews

“(CAROL) could not exist without the extraordinary performances of Blanchett and Mara, who summon the entire lifetimes of their characters in their eyes and in the timbre of their voices. The chemistry between Carol and Therese is palpable and universal, but their desire, which takes rare courage to pursue, is shaped by the sexual repression of America in the years immediately following World War II. That world is beautifully realized in Ed Lachman’s cinematography, where the drab, oppressively shadowed, often rain-swept city is transformed by the faces of two lovers, illuminated from within and without. ‘You’d be so easy to love,’ sings Ella Fitzgerald in one of the period tunes that augment Carter Burwell’s aching score. Is it an irony or is it the body-and-soul truth? It’s both, and how!”
– Amy Taubin, Film Comment

“At once ardent and analytical, cerebral and swooning, CAROL is a study in human magnetism, in the physics and optics of eros. With sparse dialogue and restrained drama, the film is a symphony of angles and glances, of colors and shadows… to a degree, CAROL is a narrative of the closet, with all the ghastly repression that suggests, yet the closet is a space that both Highsmith and Mr. Haynes complicate.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“CAROL has a furtive soulfulness that sneaks up on you. It’s the real thing – a true romance – merged with a resonant riff on what might be called the metaphysics of tolerance. For Haynes, falling in love really is about falling, and CAROL is a beautiful journey into the depths.”
– Owen Gleiberman, BBC.com

“Ravishing. I'm betting that Highsmith, a bold stylist herself, would have loved CAROL even though it's a Todd Haynes film in every fiber of its Douglas Sirk-inspired being.”
– Ella Taylor, NPR

“Haynes is known for his meditations on lush mid-century genres: women’s pictures, Technicolor melodrama. Instead of treating such material as kitsch, he teases out emotions that were latent in the originals, showing what once could not be shown. Both CAROL and FAR FROM HEAVEN – (Haynes’s) 2002 homage to the movies of Douglas Sirk — feel like fifties films that somehow eluded the Hays Code. Haynes’s direction largely hews to the conventions of old Hollywood: in CAROL, there’s a sex scene between the two women, played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, but it’s more swoony than libidinous. The characters don’t use the word ‘lesbian'; the dialogue is mannered. Haynes’s approach suits the novel, which is neither prim nor explicit about the women’s affair.”
— Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker

Film Forum