Sunday, December 20, 2015

Indie Review: Carol (2015)

              'Carol' Is Both A Haunting Yet Emotionally Rewarding Experience

        Whenever I see or watch a film with Cate Blanchett these days, I now feel it is like a coronation and I must bow since she is such acting royalty.

        Carol follows the story of a department store clerk named Therese (Rooney Mara) who finds her life changed upon a chance meeting with Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Once they meet, they slowly begin to succumb to the temptation, and toxicity, of love.

       I'll start off with the two main performances. What can I say about Cate Blanchett that many haven't already? She is one of our top actresses working today and here she delivers another three-dimensional turn much like her Oscar-winning performance in Blue Jasmine. What makes this performance much different is that while her Jasmine Francis is like a volcano constantly erupting, her Carol is like a silent predator. The way she observes and seduces Therese is like a praying mantis slowly trapping its food. For example, in an early dinner scene, the way Carol plays with her hair and holds up her cigarette and Therese becomes intoxicated by her perfume is Carol's way of luring her bait into her trap. Yet I also loved how Blanchett doesn't try to redeem Carol. Carol is a complicated woman yet is still just a human trying to satisfy her needs without any apologies for it.

 Now onto Rooney Mara. Wow, what a 180 from her Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She brilliantly portrays a conflicted, young woman who says "yes" to everything and says she knows what she wants in life, yet is lying to herself. You'll want to help Therese and see her find happiness yet at the same time, you'll felt like you were her.

     Both director Todd Haynes and writer Phyllis Nagy have captured not only how intoxicating love can be, but also how obsessive it can be. They've managed to do so through the character of Therese and how just by glancing at Carol and having a few interactions, she already feels that she may have found someone special. Whether you have fallen for a man or a woman, you can sense that feeling. That feeling of finding the one whether you think that person is attractive or has a nice personality. It doesn't matter. I applaud both Haynes and Nagy for showing that love isn't all flowers and chocolates. Love is beautiful but it also has consequences.

      I also want to give a major shoutout to the cinematographer Edward Lachman. Because of how he uses mostly a light greenish color palate, to me, it serves as a brilliant contrast to the almost toxic relationship of the two main characters. It's much like how the gleaming cinematography in Stranger By The Lake serves as a contrast to the darkness hidden behind the sunny, Eden-like paradise. The colorful work that Lachman does is much more subtle than his cinematography in Far From Heaven, yet is just as unique. I also loved the mesmerizing score by Carter Burwell and even the distinctive costume design by Sandy Powell.


     Overall, Carol is a haunting yet luminous portrayal of how love is both heartbreaking and seductive thanks to the efforts of the directing and writing as well as the emotionally raw performances by the two lead actresses that are sure to continue to mount awards attention.

Grade: A+