Todd Haynes new emotional masterpiece, Carol, brings a new perspective and quite a disturbance to the meaning of love it first sight. In the 1950s set film, Therese (Rooney Mara) a young, aspiring photographer is going about her average work day as a salesgirl when she spots Carol (Cate Blanchett), an older socialite on the verge of divorce, shopping for a toy for her daughter. After the initial overly friendly conversation concludes, Carol and Therese begin a fascinating relationship that quickly turns intimate. Haynes not only engages audiences in the perplexing lives of these two women, but does so without confining them to any sexual stereotypes.
Reasons to see Carol
Every aspect of Carol hits the nail on the head in revealing the trials and tribulations happening in Carol and Therese’s lives. From the artistic direction, giving audiences a clear setting in 1950s New York to the award-winning performances given, there is no covering the emotions.
The details used to set the time and outlook were precise with each article of clothing providing a description of the character in itself. Carol seems to always be wearing mature, extravagant clothing while being done up with the perfect hair, nails and makeup. It is almost opposite for Rooney’s character, whereas she is seen always wearing plain, childish clothing. The extreme difference in looks give audiences an even more in depth look at the backgrounds of these two women.
The chemistry between Blanchett and Rooney provide both an intriguing look at new relationships while sitting on the border of being creepy and disturbing. There is a sexual tension between the two from the beginning that leaves audiences curious and constantly wanting to see where this relationship goes.
It is no lie though to say the main reasons to see Carol is for the impeccable acting provided by Blanchett. The characterization she provides to this role through her thorough mannerisms and tough exterior has audiences enveloped in what she will do next. Her raw emotion when fighting for custody of her daughter also leaves the audience with no less then tears in their eyes. Not to mention the innocence and intimacy Blanchett exerted during the sex scene. It was hard not to feel the love between the two characters and the pain Carol was enduring through her various relationships.
Reasons to skip Carol
Although Carol is a riveting story looking at the relationship and lives of these women, there is a rather sluggish pace to it. Even though it is enticing, there are parts where you drift off from what’s happening in the scene and wanting to know other details. Aside from the slow-ish pace, the sex scene reveals an extreme intimacy between the two characters, which could possibly make some viewers uncomfortable.
A compelling story told from a new perspective, Carol tears down femme archetypes while maintaining the purpose of the film. Blanchett’s portrayal of Carol could not have made audiences connect with this character more. This film makes audiences think far beyond the roles of women in relationships while still tugging at their heartstrings.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Carol has is playing daily at 5:20 at the Athena Cinema on Court St. There are also Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:50. This week, there will be no 5:20 showing on Jan. 31, Feb. 1, and Feb. 3.