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Pictures: Courtesy of Number 9 Films Ltd Photography by Wilson Webb
Elegance. If you can imagine one word for this film, it is the most apt. Even with a trailer that feeds you a little too much of the plot, the finer details and dialogue are the true draw of this film.
Set in middle of the twentieth century in the United States, Carol depicts a tale from a period in which its context certainly augments the power of its narrative. Phyllis Nagy adapted the screenplay from the atypical 1952 romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt (later republished under the title Carol), while director Todd Hayes brings the film to the big screen.
If Carol were portrayed in the present day, it would still maintain a gripping dynamic between Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara, who’s interplay arguably carry the film. However, given the social context, the attention to detail, the subtle hints of patriarchal power, unbeknownst love, stunning cinematography, and a thoughtfully scored soundtrack by Carter Burwell, Carol transports you to a time and place that seems so very distant from now, with a duality of acuity and subtlety that enables the viewer to become completely enthralled in its world.
Attention to detail is the most striking aspect of the film : flickers of emotion, lighting, sublime conversational rapport, gestures, and beautiful attire, melded together in the time period with thoughtful and challenging cinematography (Edward Lachman), underpinned by an emotive soundtrack. Its bold and meticulous presentation only serves to enhance the interplay between the two actresses. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the film was nominated for 6 Oscars and a host of other awards, notably receiving Best Actress (Rooney Mara) & The Queer Palm at the Cannes International Film Festival 2015.
Blanchett delivers the performance of a career – everything about her character is so utterly convincing and consuming. Cate completely transforms in to Carol: it’s impossible to not empathise with her situation, desires, and an ongoing battle in a time that was riddled with chauvinism. The way she articulates and carries herself is impeccable and deeply convincing. Mara’s character, Therese, juxtaposes nicely with Carol, and delivers a near equal performance next to Blanchett, providing a less overt character to be charmed by, but one that must certainly take immense skill to maintain. Their contrast is captivating, if not a little predictable in its trajectory throughout the film. Quibbles aside, the duo have a synergy that is hard to ignore, with both personalities and life situations that compliment each other in a cinematic sense, and a passion that transports you right in to their shoes.
Although I feel that the plot of the film does not quite fully match the artistic flair of the film, its point is nonetheless adequately made, if not in a slightly cliched way. Regardless, Carol is worth seeing on the big screen: beautiful in presentation, magnificent in subtlety. That is its true power, with enough emotional hooks and dashing costumes to completely immerses you in its period. Whether it be the topics in the film that piques your interest, the complexities of love, or even the pure enjoyment of the spiffy looks in the 1950s, you can’t miss this film. A grandiose entry for 2016.