Welcome to one of the first reviews of the awards’ nominated film. I watched this one back in the middle of December, but I will only be able to see other awards’ contenders in January. So, let’s talk about Carol.
IMDb summary: In 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman.
However, before reviewing the film, I would like to tell you about my experience visiting an independent/art cinema in Aberdeen, UK. The cinemas that I am used to are the commercial ones with huge screens and a couple of hundred of seats. Even the independent cinema in my hometown looks like a generic commercial theater- it has at least 300 seats and a huge screen. However, the Aberdeen art cinema is completely different – the screens are tiny (or at least the one that showed Carol) and there are only around 70-80 seats in quite a tiny room. I also love the hallway of the movie theater – it has pictures of iconic movie moments instead of a wallpaper. So, this smaller scale film-house made the whole experience of watching a film into a cozy and unique activity. From now on, I will definitely visit this particular cinema more often.
- Carol’s screenplay was written by Phyllis Nagy who adapted the film’s story from the book The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. The movie was directed by Todd Haynes – it was only the 6th feature film he has directed. This motion picture was a character film – the whole narrative relied on the two main leads, whose characters were developed slowly but fully. The film also relied more on visual storytelling and subtle cinematography rather than dialogue.
- The film Carol told an LGBTQ love story in the 1950s when it was still a taboo. However, I loved the fact that the two main characters were not stereotypical – they were just ordinary people who just happened to have a different sexuality than the one that society accepts. The film was also quite sad but still hopeful and was the first film about members of the LGBTQ that had a happy ending or at least an open ending with possible happiness in the future.
- Rooney Mara starred as one of the leads and did the best performance of her career – her portrayal of Therese had many nuances. Lots of critics are predicting that Mara will win the Oscar for best actress this year – she already has SAG and Golden Globe nominations in the same category. I have seen a few films starring Rooney Mara, however, she never really impressed me – well, that was until I saw Carol.
- Another lead and the titular character of Carol was played by Cate Blanchett – she has also received nominations in the category of Best Actress, thus, she will be competing against her co-star. I really liked Blanchett’s sophisticated performance in Carol, but that did not really surprise me since I have always been a fan of hers. I applaud her for being able to shine in the mainstream movies like Lords of the Rings and Cinderella while still maintaining a good relationship with critics and independent filmmakers and starring in movies like Blue Jasmine.
- The supporting cast had a few familiar faces. Cory Michael Smith starred as a private detective type of a character and was as creepy as he is on Gotham as Nygma/The Riddler. I was pleasantly surprised seeing him in this film and was happy to see him transitioning from the small screen to the silver one. The husband of Carol was played by Kyle Chandler (Argo, The Wolf of Wall Street and Zero Dark Thirty). His character was not fully villainous and the viewer could understand that his actions were coming from a good place – his intentions were positive. However, there was definitely a sizeable amount of ignorance in the way his character though as well.
In short, Carol was an ordinary romantic film that just happened to have an LGBTQ couple in the spotlight without making a lot of fuss about it. These characters were real people and more than just their sexuality. All of the cast brought their A-game, Blanchett and Mara had amazing chemistry and the visuals of the film (mise-en-scene and cinematography) were also great – the motion picture took the audience back in time to the 1950s flawlessly.
Trailer: Carol trailer