A master class in acting presented through sizzling 1950s period drama.
It’s hard not to be wowed watching Cate Blanchett as the title character in Todd Haynes’ 2015 film ‘Carol‘. She emotes more meaning in wanton glances than most thespians can through pages of dialog. And her radiant chemistry with fellow Oscar nominee Rooney Mara is infectious.
When socialite Carol (Blanchett) comes Christmas shopping at Therese‘s (Mara) department store counter both of their lives instantly coalesce. Their subtly not-so-suble seduction is celluloid magic.
Being 1951 America, lesbianism is far from socially acceptable. And as these two “figure things out”, Carol’s embittered, confused husband (a sympathetically spiteful Kyle Chandler) aims to mess things up by using a “morality clause” threat over the custody of their daughter.
While Carol and Therese dance along this burgeoning romance we bear witness to their mutual self-discovery. Unlike typical Hollywood fare it feels excitingly real.
Director Haynes keeps the pace relaxed and confident. With a soul-piercing script from Phyllis Nagy from the novel by Patricia “The Talented Mr. Ripley” Highsmith. While Cinematographer Edward Lachman, Production Designer Judy Becker, Costume Designer Sandy Powell, and Music maestro Carter Burwell bathe this seethingly conservative time capsule in exquisite perfection.
Blanchett and Mara, coming from opposing points of wisdom versus youth, both show strong conviction and desire mixed with a healthy dose of insecurity and doubt. Flawlessly crafted, wonderfully flawed characters.
A nearly seventy-year-old story that’s taken twenty years to get upon the big screen. Easily worth the wait. Period romance ‘Carol‘ delivers Oscar-caliber performances, nuanced direction, elegant design, and intelligent, passionate storytelling. Breathtaking.