For Reel

Carol (2015)
January 7, 2016, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Todd Haynes
4 Stars
CarolIn a telling exchange from Carol, Sunset Boulevard is being viewed from a projection booth when one character announces that he’s seen the film a handful of times and, on this viewing, will be charting the distance between what characters say and how they really feel. Similarly, Carol is a film that thrives on the indirect and unspoken–it is not so much a steamy, sordid love affair as a film about two women who wish that they could really be having one. Sunset Boulevard is also an apt comparison in discussing the eponymous character played by Cate Blanchett, who borders on camp with sardonic one-liners that recall Norma Desmond or Margo Channing. Some critics have had a distaste for Blanchett’s outsized facade, but I found that there was something compelling in the way Carol seems to try to be playing at a certain idea of chic womanhood without being fully successful or even committed to it. Rooney Mara’s performance, on the other hand, is maybe too elusive–her wide eyes and tight lips suggests someone who watches without acting, a passive observer in her own life. Perhaps Carol and Therese (Mara) are drawn to each other because they represent the type of woman that they wish they could be, but the film never makes a particularly convincing case for their attraction. Regardless of the details, however, Carol is about a couple of lonely women who strive for love within a forbidden framework, and on those grounds it is an unmitigated success.

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