Carol is one of the most gorgeous films of last year, a stunning film both in its incredible cinematography and portrayal of a touching love story.
The film, based on Phyllis Nagy’s novel The Price of Salt, follows the forbidden relationship between young shop clerk Therese (Rooney Mara), and the older, married Carol (Cate Blanchett). The film explores the formation of their relationship as well as the tumultuous twists and turns that result from them both being women, and of differing social classes, which would have been deemed unacceptable in the 1950’s society in which the film is set.
As aforementioned, Edward Lachman’s cinematography of the film is breath taking. Each shot is framed beautifully with a perfect meld of colour and light to produce, arguably, the most visually enrapturing film of 2015. Each shot feels warm and intimate, absorbing the audience further into the film and transporting them away from the dark room they’re in. Todd Hayne’s expert craftsmanship brings together the delicate plot and beautiful imagery beautifully, creating the perfect balance, with neither overwhelming the other.
Blanchett and Mara are remarkable as the forbidden couple, sharing a genuine chemistry, even in scenes with no dialogue. Their stolen glances and subtle acts create a romantic atmosphere. Each actress matches the other every step of the way with the incredible depth they bring to their characters and they reveal their inner complexities.
The film’s whirlwind romance may feel a little too fast for some, possibly causing a lack of connection with the relationship. Similarly, the subplot of Carol’s divorce and subsequent custody battle for her child is, arguably, resolved a little too quickly, yet still holds great emotional weight.
The narrative structure creates a beautiful feeling of the relationship’s journey, beginning with a scene found near the end of the film that, when returned to, emphasises the progression of the characters’ relationships. The film’s ending may, at first, seem extraordinarily abrupt, with the film finishing even seemingly mid-bar of the score. However, it leaves the ending with direction and hope, yet not fully closed, creating a feeling of welcome authenticity.
Overall, Haynes has crafted a beautiful love story with a feel of genuineness and intimacy that showcases two remarkable performances.