Movie review: Todd Haynes' Carol is a harrowing, exquisite story of forbidden love in the 1950s | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, January 8, 2016

Movie review: Todd Haynes' Carol is a harrowing, exquisite story of forbidden love in the 1950s

Posted by on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 3:03 PM

click to enlarge Cate Blanchett in Carol - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
  • photo courtesy of the Weinstein Company
  • Cate Blanchett in Carol
Carol
★★★★
Now playing

With Carol, filmmaker Todd Haynes continues to delve into forbidden love during a tense, conflicted era. In 2002, he had ’50s housewife Julianne Moore flirting with African-American gent Dennis Haysbert (while her husband, Dennis Quaid, was busy failing to suppress his homosexuality) in the period melodrama Far from Heaven.

But while that was practically a Douglas Sirk tribute in ironic quotation marks, Carol is more like a same-sex Brief Encounter. And just like that classic love story, the subject matter is handled with genuine, romantic sincerity.

Once again tripping back to the beautiful but hopelessly repressed ’50s, Haynes casts Rooney Mara as a single shopgirl who is drawn to the title character, a high-society dame played by Cate Blanchett. A harmless friendship morphs into a frowned-upon affair as Carol tries to at once court her new love and keep custody of her daughter, which her estranged, torch-carrying husband (Kyle Chandler, stubborn but sympathetic) is fighting her for in their divorce.

Using Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 book, The Price of Salt, as source material—screenwriter Phyllis Nagy does a solemn job with the script—Haynes returns to something he knows all too well: how to hammer through the façades of seemingly content people to get to the secrets and lies hidden underneath. He finds an ideal pair of frustrated lovebirds in Blanchett and Mara, who know how to show the pain and confusion inside them through their eyes alone. Though only Blanchett is being touted for a best actress nod this awards season, both give performances worthy of a nomination.

What’s fascinating about Carol is how Haynes and his performers create a sophisticated story about two people trying to be together in an environment that’s quietly suffocating them. With longtime cinematographer Edward Lachmann capturing everything in dry, muted colors, we feel just as stifled and boxed-in as these women. Not to give anything away, but Haynes follows Highsmith’s example and ultimately provides some light at the end of this maddening, harrowing yet exquisite love story.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

Just saw this last night. Did Rubin say that being around the Avetts would make life "matter" or just that …

by Drew Rhys on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

Just saw this last night. Did Rubin say that being around the Avetts would make life "matter" or just that …

by Drew Rhys on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

She made me a peanut butter and banana sandwichwithout bread. Now that's art.

by Geoff Dunkak on ADF Review: Queering Objects and Decoding the Body in Cherdonna's Clock that Mug or Dusted (Arts)

Maybe the lack of young people in attendance is partly because of the way the NC Gay and Lesbian Film …

by Jonathan H on A Twenty-One-Year-Old Finds a Welcoming Space at the Twenty-Two-Year-Old N.C. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Arts)

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation