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Opening Date
24 Dec 2015
R21 Homosexual Theme
119 mins
English with no subtitles
Drama, Romance
Todd Haynes
Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler
New York 1952.
Carol is elegant, sophisticated, wealthy and married. Therese is just starting out in life, unsure of who she wants to be. A chance encounter in a Manhattan department store sparks an extraordinary friendship between these two women.

Carol is caught in a bitter divorce and a custody battle for her daughter, but finds herself mesmerised by this mysterious, quiet beauty. Finding herself alone on Christmas Day, Carol invites Therese to escape on a spontaneous road trip into the heartland of America. It is during this magical journey that the two fall hopelessly and desperately in love.
But this is 1952 and Carol is risking everything for this relationship that defies society’s conventions.

Based on the best-selling novel by Patricia Highsmith, author of ‘Strangers on a Train’ and ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’, Carol is a powerful romance fueled by the suspense, danger and exhilaration of forbidden love.
By Eternality Tan  22 Dec 2015
Todd Haynes directs Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett flawlessly in this nuanced and intoxicating period drama on mutual affection and desire.
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“I don't know what I want.  How could I know what I want if I say yes to everything?”

A Philip Glass-esque main theme by the fairly underrated Carter Burwell (long-time composer for the Coens) begins this intoxicating period drama directed by Todd Haynes.  Like his 2002 work Far from Heaven starring Julianne Moore, a homage to Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (1955), Carol is set in the 1950s.  We see huge, classic automobiles rolling away on the streets, people clothed in winter wear as Christmas nears, and department stores selling gifts.  

In one of these stores, a bored and restless Rooney Mara (playing Therese) serves customers obligingly, until an older woman catches her eye, played by the alluring Cate Blanchett.   Her name is Carol, but Haynes' film is essentially Therese's narrative – an innocent if confused girl in her twenties comes of age in the company of a woman with marital problems.  Haynes directs Mara and Blanchett flawlessly, capturing their remarkable performances in fine detail.  

A glance conveys deep longing, while a subtle turn of the head in reaction to a touch on the shoulder reveals an insatiable desire to want to connect.  Haynes is a master of such discreet expressions of affection and desire, while maintaining an underlying tension caused by societal taboos surrounding homosexuality.  

Never to titillate (the sex scene between Mara and Blanchett comes across as tender and hopeful), Carol is not quite the definitive LGBT movie (even though it is adapted from the groundbreaking 1952 novel 'The Price of Salt' by Patricia Highsmith), but it is rich in mood, craft and artistry that will reward discerning viewers.  The fact that the picture was shot on Super 16mm film gives it a luster that might just earn Edward Lachman a deserving Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.

There has been a lot of confusion as to who should be nominated in which category come awards season.  The Golden Globes did the right thing by placing both Mara and Blanchett in the same category.  There's no supporting performance here, least of all Mara whom the studio is slyly campaigning for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  

While Blanchett is solid (as always), Mara's tremendously nuanced performance is the one to embrace.  Her face alone is quite simply worth the admission ticket.
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By Flora  18 Dec 2015
A cinematic masterpiece. 
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There are not many lesbian films out there that sees its main characters with a happy ending. Carol not only took the risk in creating something so original and masterful, the product of a plunge is a gleaming reflection of love, acceptance and desire. Everything in this movie is beautifully-made, and emotionally accurate. 

Director Todd Haynes brings us back to the beautiful 1950s, an era where gays and lesbians are considered freaks and sinners. Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, Carol focuses on two women, Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara) and their love story of romance, desire and nonconformity. 

One of the striking elements in this production is the gorgeous production values - from the fur coats on Carol to the placing of the off-white vintage suitcases, the mise en scène in this film is nothing short of brilliant. 

Cinematographer Edward Lachman who recently picked up honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics for this film, gives Carol a certain filter of grace and elegance. The entire film looks like an Instagram-filtered screenplay that adds a certain cinematic language to the overall visual expression.

Blanchett’s performance in the movie is so stunning it’s practically faultless. Having won the Best Actress award at last year’s Oscars for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Blanchett, with this picture, once again reconfirms her status of one of Hollywood’s (modern cinema for that matter) top-notch actresses that bring to life a screenplay in unimaginable ways. The nuances from this trained actress is breathtaking; she expresses the role of a wife and mother, but one who yearns sexual desire for a woman with a balanced emphasis of sly seduction and composed elegance. 

For Mara, it’s her eyes and gaze that tells the story. There is a remarkable delicateness in her portrait-like pose, but yet her stare dominates the emotions she feels for. Therese never really goes beyond being loud and expressive, but Mara’s controlled facial cues gives audience a reminder of her internal emotional turmoil and the need for love and acceptance - just like any other normal being.

When these two actresses are in the same frame, there’s a dynamic spark that overflows. It’s one of those rare times where you sense a great overpowering emotion between the two ladies - their eyes ‘converse’ with each other. 

Perhaps it’s because of Blanchett’s domineering character that she somehow steals the limelight from Mara. Whenever she appears on screen, you just can’t seem to take your eyes off her, wanting to observe her every move - a kind on unspoken attractiveness that it’s so alluring and terrorising at the same time. 

Yes, they do make love in this movie, but this reviewer personally feels that it shouldn’t be a highlight of the film. Like a line that Therese tells her ex-boyfriend ‘I mean two people who just… fall in love. With each other.’, it’s a natural progression for two people to display their affection for each other with a sense of touch and physical longing. And Haynes does it exactly like it is - he doesn’t exploit the homosexual aspect, nor does he turn it to an expected tragedy. Instead, he tickles the aspect of forbidden love with weighed characterisation and the use of intended pauses and stillness in the dialogues. 

Carol is more than a period love drama, nor is it just a lesbian love story. It is a cinematic masterpiece piled with superb art direction and a powerful script performed by two Oscar-worthy actresses. 
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5 GOLDEN GLOBE® Nominations:

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