Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movie with Abe: Carol

Directed by Todd Haynes
Released November 20, 2015

A stolen glance or lingering look can mean a great deal, and that’s even truer in any kind of storytelling. So many people cross paths on a given day, and they find themselves in certain places for a variety of reasons. Minor moments can lead to something much more, especially if it begins as imagining fantasy. For Therese (Rooney Mara), a shy department store clerk, locking eyes with an alluring older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), stirs incredible feelings, leading to a moody romance that, in 1950s New York City, is anything but permissible and socially accepted.

This film takes for its title the name of one of its characters, but Therese is actually the one introduced first (and just as much a lead). The young woman is soft-spoken and only opens up once she knows the people around her. She tends not to offer her opinion much and rarely refuses any offer, using sheepishness and decency as her only defenses in the rare instances that she does stand her ground. Her boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy) is sweet but looking to move faster, and as evidenced by her immediate connection to Carol, who herself is in the midst of an ugly divorce with her alcoholic husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), she doesn’t know just what she wants.

“Carol” comes from director Todd Haynes, who made the colorful “Far From Heaven,” which also features a forbidden same-sex romance set in a close-minded, utterly unforgiving time. This film resembles that one in many ways, slowing down the courtship and rarely even actualizing it, instead having its performers show the tremendous emotion they feel towards each other before starting to think about whether it could be real. Those expecting to find the unfettered passion of “Blue is the Warmest Color” will be disappointed – this love story feels a lot more like the slow, deliberate pacing of “Brokeback Mountain.”

Mara and Blanchett are two actresses at very different points in their careers, and this film represents an important creative intersection for them. Mara, who earned an Oscar nomination for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” shows that she can be effective in a romantic setting too, and she makes Therese a buttoned-up girl just waiting to bubble over and become something else. Two-time Oscar winner Blanchett is now the older woman, and she masterfully adopts that role and delivers a typically biting and ferocious take on someone who is tired of watching her life going by without having any say over what happens in it. Haynes’ direction enhances the performances, which are the main reason to see this slow-moving, hypnotic journey that leaves off on a puzzlingly open-ended note.


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