Classic Review: Carol (2015)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Carol” which originally appeared here.

A young woman, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage to her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) as he begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.

This one has been getting a lot of attention and I can see why. I was personally looking forward to this one and I was happy when this one finally premiered in Ottawa recently. As with most films based on books, I haven’t read this one either so this review will be based on that. The story in this one is simple enough and it involves a young clerk named Therese (Mara) meets a woman named Carol (Blanchett) one day. A connection is soon built between them after an innocent encounter involving Therese returning a pair of gloves in which Carol forgot on her desk. Over time, this connection becomes stronger and meanwhile her husband Harge (Chandler) questions her competence as a mother when he begins to learn about her recent relationship and that with her best friend Abby (Paulson). This film also takes place in the 1950s but it is not a period piece because except for the obvious, the film has a story that is very current. It is about a relationship between two women during a time when it was more taboo. Each woman has their own stories but is their relationship that takes the forefront. This comes to the main problem I had with the film, since the film is so invested in the relationship between Therese and Carol, I never believed that they were ever in love. This could be because of the premise which led to their first encounter as I assume that is where the filmmakers wanted us to believe that they had fallen in love. I never connected with what these characters had to lose so I would have liked more exploration into this. It felt like music cues and their characters just constantly staring passionately at each other. This was fine but I would have liked if this was handled differently. I couldn’t help but to get the impression that they were just good friends. Therese and Carol spent a lot of time together during the middle two quarters of the film so they definitely had plenty of chances to develop their relationship. This was fine for me as I thought Blanchett and Mara had great chemistry and each of their performances were great individually but even better when they were together. Thanks to the script, these people felt real in how they handled their relationship, nervous and unsure of themselves. I will say that the film was beautifully shot from the style and the cinematography which still kept me engaged with the story. Overall, this a beautiful film with an important story led by great performances.

Score: 8.5/10

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