Film Review: Carol – 7.5/10

I took what you gave willingly…’

One of those films that’s been on my watchlist forever, I think Carol initially found it’s way on there as it was loosely defined as a Christmas film, but it never made the cut for my 12 Days of Christmas Films endeavour. Astonishing really when considering some of the shit that did make it in there. Todd Haynes’ film stayed on my watchlist due to its inclusion on one of the Film Studies specs. And now, I’ve finally watched it. And it’s great!

The awkwardly named Therese (Rooney Mara) finds herself in trouble when she catches feelings for Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), an older woman. This is set against the backdrop of Carol’s custody battle with her ex-husband Harge (Kyle Chandler).

Let me begin by saying this is a film for actors and filmmakers. It’s beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and is packed with layered symbolism and deeper meaning. Mara and particularly Blanchett are astonishing, the latter has arguably never been better, and together they personify that sense of yearning that comes with a forbidden love. The 50s setting allows Haynes and his crew to go to town on the costumes and set design resulting in a movie that looks as great as it sounds. Frequent Coen Brothers collaborator Carter Burwell provides the score and it is a haunting, ethereal thing, fully in keeping with Blanchett’s waiflike performance at the heart of the movie.

I’m glad I’ve finally got round to watching Carol, and I’m even gladder that it turned out to be so good. An understated subtle film that deserves to be treated as a serious piece of art.