The first time I went to the cinema over Christmas I was thrilled, and no prizes for guessing which film that was. The second time, and I was stunned. Carol is an absolutely beautiful film, like an Edward Hopper painting come to life, with some astounding performances. I knew this had been brought to the screen by director Todd Hynes, and as I really enjoyed his fake ’70s glam rock biopic Velvet Goldmine, some years back now, I was keen to catch up with his work.
Carol exudes painstakingly recreated 1950s style and finesse, with the pent up emotions threatening to mess up the facade; the characters fighting against the neat established order with some restrained and touching performances from both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. The time and place is so exquisitely designed and photographed, and perhaps that is the film’s one true weakness; it can often feel like an exhibit, where everything is almost too perfectly staged. Still, the narrative and performances work and have made me keen to seek out the source material (Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt).
By the time Blanchett utters the three most important words in the English language, I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or cheer out loud (I came close to doing both). Yes, it’s just a film, but when a film can say so much about who we are and can be, it’s well worth watching. A film can also touch the viewer in more personal and uncomfortable ways, and I suppose it does that to, and what is art (and film in particular) unless it makes us feel?
Also, here’s a clip of the press conference, which is well worth watching:
Carol has been on general release in the UK from the 27th November 2015, and is still in cinemas at the time of writing.