First Hit: One of the most lusciously beautiful well-acted films I’ve ever seen.
The detail in this film set in 1952 is beyond perfect. The storyline captures the mood and feel of the times while painting beauty, struggle, and joy with intentional and pointed elegance.
Unlike Point Break (the previously reviewed film) which didn’t have a real story to tell, this film was all story. That might have been enough but the director made every frame a piece of art. The wall-paper I recognized from my grandmother’s house. The painting of a ship at sea, I’d seen somewhere when I was a small boy. The attitudes of all the characters were perfectly aligned with the times. The delicious detail in each car all sitting on top of incredible dialogue.
The two main characters Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) were amazing in how they portrayed their roles. Carol, a wealthy beautiful woman who gets what she wants, is not romantically attracted to men and finds herself in the middle of a difficult divorce.
Although her husband loves her dearly, because of this lack, her husband sees this as a reflection of his manliness. Therese is somewhat naïve, enjoys being around men but not intimately, works in a large department store, and almost appears to be waiting for life to happen to her.
Very early in the film, these two meet while Carol is shopping for something for her daughter. The rest of the film is a beautiful patient unfolding of their discovery of each other and themselves. The end of the film is so strong and subtle that it was arrestingly remarkable.
Both of these women deserve to be nominated for best actress awards during awards season.
Blanchett is amazing as woman willing to do what she needs to fill the empty place in her heart. Her outfits, movements and the way she expressed herself were fearless and of wonder. Her portrayal as a caring mom while in difficulty of meeting society's standards was incredible. One of her most powerful scenes, which displayed her love of her daughter and her wanting a life of happiness transpired when she and her husband met at a lawyers office to discuss terms of their divorce. It showed her character in so many ways. Mara was sublime. Her look and expressions were so mesmerizing that I couldn’t take my eyes off her. To watch her unfold so slowly and beautifully was like a butterfly coming out of cocoon in real time. Watching her discover herself and what she wanted was almost voyeuristic in the most intimate beautiful way possible. It is rare we get to be this close with a character. Phyllis Nagy wrote a real women’s script that captured everything about the time, attitudes, and feelings. Todd Haynes directed these actors through this script with a touch of magic.
Overall: An extraordinary film in all ways.