Carol: Film Review

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Carol has been on my must-watch list since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews and a standing ovation, and Rooney Mara tied for the Best Actress prize. I tried and failed to get a ticket to see it at the London Film Festival in October, but now it is finally ready for general release and my wait is over. I must say, the hype made me slightly disappointed.

Cate Blanchett is Carol, a socialite in 1950s New York who is in the middle of a divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler). She has had relationships with women before and she finds herself attracted to Therese (Mara), a department store salesgirl she meets while buying a Christmas gift. Their bond grows stronger and Therese ditches her boyfriend to embark on a road trip with Carol, who has lost custody of her daughter because her lesbian romance is considered immoral.

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Both leads are incredible and expect both names to come up when the big award nominations are read out. Blanchett is always fabulous so I would personally like Mara to win, because her performance captivated me more. She is the audience’s eyes and is so emotionally vulnerable. Their attraction to each other is pretty subtle and restrained in the beginning – it is the 1950s after all – but their eventual sex scene is still artistically done. They are both terrific when the cracks start to show and the consequences of their relationship hit home. I also want to praise Chandler because he really shone for me as the estranged husband, who hits the bottle too hard but still loves his wife.

The film looks gorgeous. I love the costume and production design in period movies and I love seeing New York at Christmas. The department store scenes really got me in the festive mood! Carol looked glorious as the socialite in fancy clothes and make-up whereas Therese is kooky and indie and Carol’s friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) is sophisticated and cool.

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It did drag though. It is a slow-burner for sure, with their relationship only becoming overt well over halfway through. I actually quite liked the lead up to it, because you were waiting for Therese to take the plunge and go for it. It was the third act that grew a bit tiresome and I just wanted a resolution to happen. I totally approve of the ending. I did not expect that outcome so I was pleased.

So this is one of those award season films where you can appreciate the performances and story, but it is not very exciting. It was a beautiful love story, no doubt, I just wish the last act was tighter and maintained the same level of interest as the rest of the movie.

In cinemas 27th November 

Comments

  1. Carol was shot in Cincinnati (where I live), which often stands in for period New York. Thanks for the early review!

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