It was once more back to the Oscar pool for Carol, the story of Therese (Rooney Mara) who falls for Carol (Cate Blanchet) and the effect that has on both their lives. Though mainly Carol’s.
It’s a period drama set in the 1960s and as always Blanchet is luminous and graceful and beautiful and seductive and everything you can think of to describe a woman who could easily capture anyone’s heart. Mara is similarly stunning, but in a more innocent, reserved way. The initial attraction is not always convincingly played out, but the burgeoning relationship between the two slowly unfolds and reveals itself.
Trying to rain on their parade is Carol’s husband and, to a lesser extent, Therese’s boyfriend. Carol’s husband holds the trump card: the couple have a child and Carol’s not always discrete indiscretions could signal the end of her ability to see her daughter. So the relationship that blossoms between Carol and Terese is hindered and limited, and the emotional journey of the two women is palpable.
It’s a great film, slowly told, movingly acted, and seems so small and intimate, with lots of close ups, though the cold colour palate gives everything an air of repression and depression.
People come and go out of the lives of these two women, and one of the parties Therese attends is painful in the isolation and distance portrayed between her and anyone else in attendance. Carol’s world seems smaller, if richer, with a close bosom buddy to confide in, but no greater circle of friends to lose herself in.
All up, the film is a wonderful, small film with outstanding performances. Should Blanchet win an Oscar over Brie Larson for Room? No – but that is my pro-Larson bias coming through, and is no way a sign that Blanchet and Rooney’s performances are anything less than spectacular. A beautiful film.
Verdict: Carol hits all the right notes in its telling of a small tale of love and relationships in 1960s New York. Utterly compelling and intriguing, it’s a moving affair and totally engrossing. 9 train sets out of 10.