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'Carol' review: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara's subtle love story will cast a spell on you

Though it’s a worthwhile watch in every regard, the brilliant performances alone can be the reason for one to make time for this one!

Kriti Tulsiani |

Updated:February 27, 2016, 2:59 PM IST

Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler

Set in the 1950s era, when love was love only if it involved opposite sexes or else it was regarded as ‘immoral’ (not that we’ve come too far on this in today’s time), the film finely explores the relationship between a young aspiring photographer (Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet) and self-assured married woman (Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird) in middle of a loveless marriage’s difficult divorce. The story then explores the conflicts arising due to constant scrutiny by Carol’s husband Harge and the respective man in Therese’s life.

This film does not belong to the kind everyone enjoys, it’s one of those made in super good-taste to cast a spell worth volumes. While the film is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel ‘The Price of Salt’, it isn’t groundbreaking but just a fine depiction of the so called ‘forbidden love’. While the film delineates the blossoming of lesbian love, it doesn’t at once lose focus of the evolution of the characters, as individuals and as a couple. It doesn’t go on to become a rant about society not accepting their love but remains a low-key romance all throughout.


Cate Blanchett, as a bold, poise, affluent lady slays you; such elegance, such elan. While there are scenes where her hauteur and elegance sways you away, there are some points when her portrayal of fear and self-doubt brings along the audience for her entire journey. Playing the role of a girl who ‘just can’t say no to anybody’, Rooney Mara’s character does not use words to express; it’s simply her eyes that do the talking. As the movie progresses, you just can’t help but flow with the naivety of Rooney Mara’s character.

Right from their first interaction where their eyes meet across the floor crossing tons of people busy buying Christmas presents, you just don’t see sparks, you feel them. You realise it’s a movie not of words, but of expressions that convey the feelings. Not that Phyllis Nagy hasn’t done a good job, but had it not been for these two actresses; his words wouldn’t have been personified.

Another performance that deserves a special mention is that of Sarah Paulson’s character Abby Gerhard. She assays the role of Carol’s best friend, past lover and a constant support. Even if she has less on-screen time, she manages to portray a large array of emotions. From standing up to Carol’s husband to comforting the heart-broken Therese, she’s definitely impactful.


To the film’s credit, every shot has been brought to screen with perfect detailing that not only fronts you with1950s feel but also brings alive the old traditions; from smoking cigarettes at lunch to recreating old magic of photographs. It’s not just the character sketches which are detailed but the entire set-up looks just spot on!

Even though the slow build up is the heart of this film, it might not get away that well with every viewer, likely to make them loose grip of the story every now and then.

Though it’s a worthwhile watch in every regard, the brilliant performances alone can be the reason for one to make time for this one!

Rating: 3/5

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