Carol, directed by Todd Haynes and based on Particia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, is set in early 1950s New York. Having become estranged from her husband, Carol starts an illicit relationship with a young woman, Therese. However, as the devoted mother of a little girl, she is soon forced to reconsider her new liaison when faced with a threat from her jealous husband Harge, played by Kyle Chandler.
Cate Blanchett is as graceful and magnetic as ever in the title role, while Rooney Mara’s Therese – who here bears a spooky resemblance to Audrey Hepburn – is modest and thoughtful, albeit a little pouty. Though the characters’ rapport may seem a little forced at times, their love scenes are tender and tastefully handled.
A particularly interesting choice is made in returning to the use of film instead of the more modern digital techniques used today. The grainy quality enhances what director of photography Edward Lachman describes as the film’s “soiled, naturalistic look”. The period is perfectly evoked though lighting and costume as well as language, while Carter Burwell’s emotive soundtrack brings just the right amount of romance and glamour to the mix.
Considering that the film tackles the subject of homosexuality at a time when it was regarded as obscene and immoral, Carol is quiet and doesn’t dwell on the political implications of the story. Its leisurely tempo enhances the authenticity of the period; a time before mobile phones and the internet turned life into a hysterical race.
Carol does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch a clip from Carol here: