A sensuous, heartfelt yet quite simple film, ‘Carol’ is a delicate feature whose leading ladies, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, deliver the type of intricate performances that make cinema viewing a real treat.
Set during the holiday season in 1950’s New York, ‘Carol’ focuses on the complex relationship that develops between department store clerk Therese Belivet (Mara) and wealthy suburban housewife Carol Aird (Blanchett). Therese dreams of being a photographer and is unsure of her feelings towards eager self-proclaimed beau Richard (Jake Lacy); Carol is in the midst of a messy divorce and fears the actions of her spiteful husband (Kyle Chandler). When the two catch each other’s eyes there’s an almost instant seduction between them and though they initially dance around truly verbalising their feelings an impulsive road trip suggestion from Carol leads their bourgeoning relationship to be tested all too quickly.
To assume ‘Carol’ is chasing a gay audience with its central theme of two women in love would be to unfairly judge this striking film that celebrates love in its purest form. Blanchett, as one would expect, is marvellous in the titular role, her almost-feline features never appearing more mysterious and fascinating as they do here. But just as much as this is Blanchett’s film, Mara is her equal, effortlessly up to the task of matching her co-star’s magnetism with an unexpected softness that has been sadly omitted from the majority of her past roles.
The look, sound, and feel of ‘Carol’ are the epitome of refinement, and the sumptuousness delivered on screen is well balanced by the haunting performances delivered by two of the industry’s most reliable performers. A love story unrestricted by its subject matter, ‘Carol’ is likely to remain one of the year’s great romance tales.