Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Phillis Nagy
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, and Kyle Chandler
The strength of “Carol” lies in the exceptional performances of its two leading ladies, Cate Blanchett, and Rooney Mara. Blanchett gives a good performance that is both the epitome of elegance and contains the right amount of, for lack of a better word, melancholy when the performance needs to be melancholic. Mara is superb, and with this performance buries her involvement in that “Pan” catastrophe. Blanchett and Mara together are sublime. They had phenomenal chemistry together from the word go. Their relationship is believable; it is easy to see why someone like Mara would fall in love with someone like Blanchett. Blanchett and Mara are locks for the Oscar nominations that they had been expecting since the film debuted at Cannes. Whether or not either of them wins the category depends on whether Alicia Vikander is being campaigned for the lead or supporting category for “The Danish Girl,” because Vikander has a lead nomination at the Golden Globes, but nominated in the supporting category for the SAG Award.
The production and costume design for “Carol” were outstanding. The design of the costumes and film felt authentic to the period, 1950’s New York. Unlike “Brooklyn,” also set in 1950’s New York, “Carol” lacks the sense of nostalgia. “Brooklyn” was brighter and set during the spring and summer, to create that nostalgic feel. “Carol” has darker tones and is set during the winter and seems bleaker. Todd Haynes, the director, did not want a nostalgia piece and wanted to create a different tone entirely. The darker tone established by Haynes lets you know that this is not a traditional happy love story, and in many ways it is not. It is a love story that went against the status quo of the era. The final shot of the movie is fantastic. It is one of those endings that deliberately left open-ended.
The costumes reflect the grace and elegance of Blanchett’s character and the reserved nature of Mara’s character. The costumes were instrumental in making the movie feel authentic to the period. They looked like they came out of the 1950’s, but then again if you design the costumes well, the movie will feel authentic to the time and place of its setting.
“Carol” is a must see because it will be a serious contender for many Oscars this year, and you do not want to be the one who sits there and thinks to themselves “What is this? I have never seen any of these movies.”