Film Review: Carol is perfectly judged

Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Phyllis Nagy, Carol is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s highly acclaimed and seminal novel The Price of Salt. Taking place in 1950s New York, two women from different backgrounds are brought together by a mutual attraction. Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), earns her bread in a Manhattan department store where she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring, wealthy older woman trapped in a loveless marriage.

Amid threats that custody of her child will be taken from her by her husband, Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese on a journey of self-discovery.

The film looks sumptuous. The cars, the outfits, the haircuts, the décor, everything drips with a 1950s elegance, on which the eyes simply feast. Conversely, the story is breathlessly restrained. In keeping with a time when a lesbian relationship was not considered acceptable, their tale is brilliantly told through the smallest of movements. A touch on the shoulder here, a lingering glance there. The narrative doesn’t move forward through what is said, but rather through the things that are impossible to say. And this is where the two leading ladies prove to be exceptional. Their courtship is utterly believable and their desire is portrayed with subtlety.

The movie clearly cares deeply about its protagonists and also its supporting figures. Carol’s husband might be angry, drunk and trying to gain custody of their child, but he’s no beast. Rather, he is to be pitied as a confused, conflicted man of his time who just wants his wife back.

Ultimately, Carol is a tender, perfectly judged love story in which Blanchett and Mara’s performances are simply beautiful.

Carol opens in Australian cinemas nationally January 14, and is already out in the UK and US.

bobby townsend


Review by Bobby Townsend.