Based on the novel The Price of Salt from Patricia Highsmith, Carol tells the story of forbidden love in the 50’s. How this era was full of beauty on the outside, on the inside it was ugly and un-accepting of any kind of same-sex relationship. This is a tale of romance against all odds.
The very beautiful and one of the best actresses of our time Cate Blanchett stars in the leading role as Carol, a middle-class woman, full of elegance and grace yet hiding her true self. A chance meeting with Therese (Rooney Mara), a department store sales assistant, see’s the pair spark an unlikely friendship, one which see’s Therese absolutely enamoured with Carol.
Carol, after leaving her gloves on Therese’s counter top at the store, invites her to her house to bring back the gloves and to thank her for her assistance in helping with a present for daughter. The house is truly grand and after a while Carol seems extremely comfortable with Therese, that is until her husband arrives home and the pretence begins once again. Carol is in fact in a loveless sham of a marriage. As the pair begin to bond, their relationship deepens until they are madly in love.
Todd Haynes has taken this story and made it into a truly beautiful and extremely tasteful piece of work. Gone are any scenes of over the top passionate kissing, a simple touching of the hand between the two explodes into electricity. Even the ‘Sex Scene’ see’s no nudity from the ladies, but the suggestion of what is about to happen is purely enough. The script’s dialogue is extremely minimal but visually it draws in the eye, it’s beyond any doubt captivating. We don’t experience any grand gestures of romance or any of that cheese from our romantic films of our modern generation. The whole feel of the film has one of that of films from the era it’s actually set in, The Golden Age of Hollywood. In other words, it’s a modern day throwback.
True love never runs smoothly, whilst Therese is still a young woman, Carol is much older and a woman of the world and knows exactly how dangerous this love affair can be. Every last little move has to be in secret, but she simply can’t hide her motives from her husband. She finally breaks free from her loveless marriage, but her husband (Kyle Chandler) has other ideas and threatens her with the prospect of taking away her daughter on the grounds of her lack of morality. Turns out this isn’t Carol’s first time in a same sex relationship. Carol soon realises she simply cannot win this fight and leaves the marital home to embark on a journey of adventure and self-discovery with Therese.
Both our leading ladies give an exceptionally graceful, stylish and tantalizing performance, Blanchett is full of poise and intensity which is offset brilliantly with Mara’s slight touch of innocence and naivety.
Carol may seem to burn slow, but it is tantalisingly intoxicating from the period costume to the scenery, even the way in which smoking a cigarette just seemed elegantly sexy in the 50’s all seems so authentic. Its velvety tone is full of dignity and respect, a beautiful homage to a story of obsessive forbidden love.
Carol is out in cinema 27th of November.