with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler.
Carol (Cate Blanchett) exudes glamor in her mink coat purchased by her cast off husband. Even though she is trying to get a divorce, she has qualms about it since Harge (Kyle Chandler) is threatening to claim sole custody of their four year old daughter. The film takes place in 1952 around Christmas. Therese (Rooney Mara), a young clerk at Frankenberg’s Department Store, looks fetching in her Santa cap as Carol comes in search of a doll for her daughter. The two women circle each other a while, before striking off on a road trip where they become more than just friends.
Todd Haynes, again influenced by the visual style of Douglas Sirk, with his luscious use of technicolor and carefully composed screens full of beautiful women’ faces, has a rhythm of telling a story that is not completely smooth. There are peaks and valleys, mostly having to do with the heterosexual men, such as husbands (Kyle Chandler as Harge) and fiances (Jake Lacy as Richard), who get in the way of the women’s desires. The actors playing these hapless characters don’t have much to work with since they are mere encumbrances to the women, and not fully fleshed out. The two women at the center of the story are undergoing distress that goes beyond that to a level of injustice. Even though the time period of the 1950s is flattering to the styles of women’ dress, it discriminates in every other way.
The exquisite attention paid to the detail of the clothes, hair, and makeup made me feel at times as if I were watching an elaborate lipstick commercial.
One straight man employed by the New York Times proves to be a pal to Therese in getting her career launched as a photographer. The movie is not about men, though. It is a beautifully shot and lovingly acted story of two women who fall in love with each other. It is about time that we had such a movie, and Carol proves itself very powerful thanks to its two leads, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. They are brilliant in every frame.