Yosra Osman checks out Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in 1950s romantic drama Carol and finds her socks knocked off.
Carol, directed by Todd Haynes, is no exception. Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, it’s a love story that will leave you devastated, but totally in awe.
Set in 1950s New York, the film tells the tale of Therese (Rooney Mara), a young store clerk who is seduced by high society customer and older woman Carol (Cate Blanchett). What ensues is an intense, highly-charged relationship that is as dramatic as it is beautiful.
“Carol does more with a simple exchange of glances than many love stories can express within two hours.”
It is not a simple affair: Carol is married and her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) is trying to find evidence of the affair so he can take sole custody of their child. Despite this, a particular strength to the film is that Haynes chooses to focus more on the kaleidoscope of internal feelings and emotions of its two main characters, rather than any external influences. Carol is a simple tale, but Haynes tells it ever so beautifully and with a fantastic cast behind him, meaning the film will stay in your memory long after you’ve seen it.
We are, just like Mara’s Therese, immediately utterly enchanted by the eponymous character. Alluring, charismatic – you can’t imagine anyone quite playing her like Blanchett. Mara is the perfect match and comes into her own as Therese, whose cold exterior unravels as the affair develops – despite her best attempts to stifle any emotion.
Much has been said about this being a ‘lesbian love story’, which it definitely is, but it doesn’t seem just to simplify the story in such a way. It is a subtle, yet extremely powerful story of love, expertly told and brilliantly acted. It does more with a simple exchange of glances than many love stories can express within two hours.
As we come to the end of 2015, I can’t help but feel that Carol is up there with some of the best films I’ve seen this year. If you need a break from your Christmas shopping, definitely give it a try.
Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions