Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. For more information please visit www.festival-cannes.com/en or follow the Cannes Film Festival on Twitter.
One of the most anticipated films of this year’s Competition – that also lived up to its expectations – includes Todd Haynes’s lesbian love-story Carol, an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt by screenwriter Phyllos Nagy. When the novel got first published in 1952, Highsmith used an alias because of its daring subject matter at that time. The story is set in New York City during the early 1950s and focuses on two women from different social backgrounds who fall in love with each other. The fact that the original story was written by Highsmith during this period when homosexuality was not widely accepted, adds to the authenticity of Carol although it is still relevant today in terms of obstacles and intolerance homosexuals have to face even today.
With Carol, Haynes offers a stunning, very detailed period piece of an innocent, realistic and touching romance…
Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a rather shy and reserved young woman in her early 20s who dreams of more fulfilling life but is unable to take action in order to change her current situation. She sort of settles for her boyfriend Richard, who is obviously more attracted to her than she is to him, and maintains a job as a clerk at a department store, although she dreams of becoming a photographer for the New York Times. One day Therese notices an elegant and glamorous woman at the store and is immediately fascinated by her. Looking for a Christmas present for her daughter, Carol (Cate Blanchett) who noticed Therese’s stares, asks for her advice and starts to flirt with her. Before she leaves, Carol leaves her gloves on purpose for Therese to find as an excuse to contact her and stay in touch.
The two women start seeing each other and slowly fall in love, however their emerging relationship is complicated by Carol’s divorce from husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) who is still in love with her but is willing to use his wife’s former homosexual affair with best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) to gain fully custody of their mutual daughter in case he is unable to convince Carol to stay with him. When he suspects her to be in a new relationship with Therese, he manages to gain temporary custody of their daughter until a hearing about three months later. To clear her mind, Carol embarks on a road trip with Therese, where the women get emotionally and physically intimate for the first time. When Harge hires a detective to prove Carol’s “immoral” behavior and her inability to be a mother to her child, she is more vulnerable than ever and has to make a life-changing decision while slowly falling apart and being punished for being who she really is.
Carol is an intelligent film with daring and complex characters…
With Carol, Haynes offers a stunning, very detailed period piece of an innocent, realistic and touching romance of two people who have to overcome many obstacles not only to be together but to express their true feelings and be who they are in a society during the 1950s that is intolerant and discriminating against homosexuals. Carol is an intelligent film with daring and complex characters whose great love and attraction for one another cannot and should not be denied. Mara and Blanchett in particular deliver brilliant performances, especially through their longing gazes and their convincing connection between each other.
Carol is an intelligent film with daring and complex characters whose great love and attraction for one another cannot and should not be denied.