A look at Carol (M)…
CATE Blanchett is at her very best in the adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s love story, set in early 1950s New York and New Jersey.
She’s wealthy society lady Carol Aird busy looking at train sets for her daughter in a huge Manhattan department store.
It’s there when she’s doing her Christmas shopping where Carol encounters 20-year-old Therese, in a Santa hat, working behind a counter.
The society lady leaves her gloves behind – perhaps deliberately – and Therese (Rooney Mara) mails them back to her.
Carol receives the package and after thanking the shopgirl for returning the gloves invites Therese to her out-of-town mansion for a meal and drinks.
Therese has a boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy) and expects to marry. But she still finds herself drawn to Carol despite having no conception of same-sex love.
Things become a bit complicated especially because Carol’s divorce from husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) is underway and the custody battle for daughter Rindy looks like becoming quite messy.
It’s not until about 70 minutes into this two-hour movie that Carol and Therese kiss during the best part of the story, to my mind, on a road trip in Carol’s Packard from New York to the Mid West.
The open country, compared to the cloistered streets of Manhattan, seems to afford the women space not only for freedom of thought but also importantly for free play.
It’s quite a dark film but the blackness only makes Todd Haynes’ movie more dramatic and much more moving.
Harge will do anything to get Carol back – including hiring a private detective – so there’s a few scenes shot in the contesting lawyers’ offices.
The revelation about the private detective comes virtually out of the blue. I had no idea it was coming particularly since it’s around 1952-53, but, hey, Mickey Spillane private eye novels couched in racy language for the time were all the rage back then.
And even when Therese translates her amateur photography hobby into a full-time job at the New York Times her mind is still full of thoughts and images of Carol.
Therese had started photographing Carol on an early trip out to New Jersey when the older woman was busy buying a Christmas tree from a roadside vendor.
With the awards season in full swing now you’d have to think Blanchett is in line to collect another Oscar. She plays her role as Carol with far less melodrama and tear-jerkiness than she did for her recent Academy Award-winning role in Blue Jasmine.