ROK’s Flicks: Carol

In 1952, when Patricia Highsmith wrote her novel “The Price of Salt”, it was an era of unforgiving social conventions.

In 1952, when Patricia Highsmith wrote her novel “The Price of Salt”, it was an era of unforgiving social conventions. She originally published under a pseudonym Claire Morgan, eventually re-publishing in 1990 under her own name. The film is based on the book and is directed by Todd Haynes, seemingly a perfect choice considering his film “Far From Heaven,” was also a 1950s drama that entailed race as well as homosexuality, both sensitive subjects for the era.

New York, being my favourite city in the world, looks gorgeous in the 1950s Carol. From the creative photography of the city to a production design that takes you back in time, Eisenhower in black and white TV, and to the costumes which are spectacularly gorgeous.

Cate Blanchett (Carol) is a married upper class socialite trying to deal with her true feelings for the opposite sex. She is stunningly beautiful, confident & dresses with style and conviction.

Rooney Mara (Theresa) is an unassuming, unpretentious yet chic 20-something salesgirl in a Manhattan department store, uncannily looking like Audrey Hepburn in her waifish sort of way. Therese’s attire is as simple as her life. She’s young and undecided about a career or love, or as she puts it, even down to what to order for lunch!

Theresa (pronounced Tuh-rezz) is dreaming of something more than her somewhat drab Christmas holidays, when Carol approaches to buy a very expensive train set ($5000) for her 4 year-old daughter Rindy. Carol conveniently leaves her gloves on the counter enticing Theresa to post them back. There is an immediate “spark” between the two that intensifies. In Theresa’s case I think initially she’s taken by Carol’s sultry glamour and sophistication – a total contrast to her own life.

Carol’s on the verge of divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), and he knows her past sexual secrets and is more than willing to use them against her, especially when it comes to access to daughter Rindy. The arrival of Therese on the scene only hurts and enrages him further. Carol should really stay away from Therese at such a vulnerable time but the two women eventually allow themselves to be swept away in scenes that are brilliantly and suggestively filmed. For a love story, it is surprisingly thin on love scenes – there’s only one. Yet, it takes your breath away with intensity, sexuality and emotion. BUT, there were times I found Carol slightly predatory!

CAROL is a poignant and beautifully filmed story. Its pace is slow, breathtakingly long but necessary glances at each other that compliment the story line and depth of character development. More than a romance, it’s a film about choices and consequences. This is a brilliant adult film with two superb performances by Blanchett & Mara (both well deserve their Oscar nominations). The story develops just a bit too slowly, and we don’t experience or understand anything that attracts the women other than sex, but I still rate it highly


ROK’S RATING: 4 ½ glasses bubbly