There are quite a few films from 2015 I have put off watching for the longest time, and Carol might be the film I regret putting off the most. Carol is a romantic period piece set in the 1950s, directed by Todd Haynes, and based on the 1952 romance novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. The film is about an affair between a young aspiring photographer and an older married woman going through a painstaking divorce.
Sometimes all it takes is one long glance to set a spark between two people. This is what happens when Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) lock eyes for the first time in the middle of a toy store. Carol is one of the most subtle romance films of this decade, as it focuses on a delicate and quiet love between two people. Therese immediately notices there is something different about Carol, and her curiosity turns into attraction, something not only new for her but also something that goes against everything she’s been told. The older Carol senses this and also becomes attracted to Therese.
Mara is great at playing an innocent woman who is not only inexperienced at love but to the world itself. As riveting as Mara’s performance is, the real star is Blanchett, who gives the audience an award-worthy performance. Kyle Chandler–who plays Harge Aird, Carol’s husband–also deserves some praise. Chandler–always an able actor–plays a dictating husband, but the role is played with such vulnerability that you sometimes feel bad for his character.
I love how the men in the film are the ones who display all the emotions in a loud fashion. The duality of men and women is quite apparent and is something that can be attributed to the 1950s setting. The women in this film are more quiet and delicate in how they handle their turmoil. Gay love is considered taboo in this era, and we are shown how this impacts who has custody of Rindy Aird, Carol and Harge’s daughter.
Carol isn’t the first film to display a tender romance between gay lovers, but it stands above the crowd due it’s beautiful cinematography, capturing the 1950s eloquently, and an original soundtrack that is hard to beat. The film is shot as if the director used different colored filters, reminding me of The Double Life of Veronique. The way the theme is played during key moments of the film is so beautiful that it touches my heart. I honestly have to say Carol deserves to be in the talks for greatest romance films this decade.