I hated reading the audience reviews of the movie Carol before seeing it. My wife went to see it one day before I did at The Spectrum Theatre in Albany, and she told me how this older couple at the cinema complained how s-l-o-w the film was.
Interesting that the audience reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, which often find the film too understated, are quite a bit less favorable than the critics. But we agree with the bulk of the critics, who thought this was a fine, subtle, sensitive film by director Todd Haynes.
When the situation is boy-meets-girl, there’s a broad tableau of reactions that are possible. But when it’s girl-meets-girl, in the 1950s, even in New York City, there’s a lot more at stake, with more nuanced responses required. The alluring Carol Auld (Cate Blanchett) wants to buy a present for her little girl when she meets the young sales clerk, and aspiring photographer, Therese, “not Theresa?” (Rooney Mara) at a department store.
The relationship between Carol and Therese is all quite chaste, though Carol’s friend Abby (Sarah Paulson, who I didn’t recognize right away) sees the potential for more. The relationship between the two woman is confounding to Therese’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Carol and her estranged husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) have their own tussles, trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage.
Some have predicted an Oscar for Mara. I wonder, though, because it’s not a flashy role, but rather quite controlled, like much of the film, which is the antithesis of an action flick.
The movie is adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt,” and I know not how close the film is aligned with the book. I do know that the film look of elegance has garnered it several Oscar nominations in the technical categories.