Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Notes on a Scandal) and Oscar nominee Rooney Mara (Her) are exquisite as forbidden lovers in this sumptuous, 1950s-set drama by director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Far From Heaven) based on the semi-autobiographical novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.
Carol (Blanchett) is a glamorous NYC socialite in the middle of a difficult divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler, The Wolf of Wall Street). On a holiday shopping trip she encounters department-store worker Therese (Mara), and the two women are instantly taken with one another. Their romance begins tentatively but develops quickly, and the lovers decide to take a trip to the Midwest together to escape the men in their lives. But this idyllic retreat is disrupted when Carol and Therese realize that they are being followed by a private investigator hired by Carol’s husband, who plans to use evidence of the forbidden liaison in the upcoming custody battle over Carol and Harge’s young daughter.
Faithfully adapting Highsmith’s novel right up to its surprising ending, Haynes expertly builds tension and suspense as Carol finds herself trapped between her commitments to her lover and her child. As always, Blanchett delivers a masterful and nuanced performance, and she is matched every step of the way by Mara, who won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her turn as the enigmatic Therese. Flush with beautifully realized period detail and brought to vivid life by two remarkable performances, Carol is sure to be one of the year’s best films.
“Made of crystal and suppressed tears, shot eternally through windows and mirrors and half-closed doors, Todd Haynes’ Carol is a love story that starts at a trickle, swells gradually to a torrent, and finally bursts the banks of your heart. A beautiful film in every way, immaculately made, and featuring two pristine actresses glowing across rooms and tousled bedclothes at each other like beacons of tentative, unspoken hope.” (Jessica Kiang, The Playlist)
“Even high expectations don’t quite prepare you for the startling impact of Carol, an exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order.” (Justin Chiang, Variety)