Carol – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

January 10, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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Cigarettes are in important prop in any movie set in 1950s New York. Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, The Price of Salt, we know exactly where we are when women sport pointy bras, men wear hats and smoking punctuates the drama.

Nominated for a raft of local and overseas awards, Carol wraps up Sapphic love as an old-fashioned morality romance which well suits the era but takes its time to tell the story.

When wealthy Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) spies Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) serving in the Christmas toy section of a department store, she sets events in motion which are designed to attract the much younger woman.  Separated from her husband, Harge Aird (Kyle Chandler), over her affair with an old friend, Abby Gerhad (Sarah Paulson), Carol has a young daughter whom she adores.

We appreciate what Therese sees in the sophisticated Carol who has the money to make things happen. All the former has to offer is her youth and innocence.  But of course that is exactly what attracts the older woman, who grooms a willing Therese by subterfuge and seduction.

It is her boyfriend, Richard Semco (Jake Lacy), who points out to Therese that she has a crush on Carol but he is helpless to stop the inevitable.   A road trip together allows the women’s relationship to develop but reality rears its ugly head when Harge turns vengeful in his attempts to separate Carol from their daughter and punish her for her boldness.

Is the film worthy of all the accolades?  Certainly the two lead performances are strong.  Mara continues to transform herself and proves as adept as Blanchett at tackling different accents.  Blanchett dazzles with an expensive New York drawl to go with her great wardrobe.

Lesbian love was once looked on as immoral, and we understand how difficult it was conduct such an affair, but this offering from director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) doesn’t really add anything new.  It looks gorgeous and will please Blanchett’s many fans but it could have been told with more economy and less dwelling on inconsequential things.

There should have been a credit for the supply of all the fags.

3.5/5  Released January 14  118mins Rated  M   2015

Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Sarah Paulson

Directed by Todd Haynes

Written by Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

 

 

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