Thursday, 10 March 2016

Carol: A review

This film was as satisfying as a good novel in its completeness and evenness of texture. It had you turning the visual pages and reading the storyline with constant interest. It was a tale set in the 50s by Patricia Highsmith but with modern resonances. The story of the lovers played gloriously by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara unfolded slowly and lingeringly with perfect emotional choreography. The transition from personal to physical relationship had a seamlessness and inevitability, signaled by one electric moment when Carol places her hand on Therese’s. The gender of these two was irrelevant – two people were unable not to fall in love. The emotional charge was long drawn out but there were moments of searing intensity. In one, as the brutal vice of contemporary mores and incrimination wielded by her husband had closed on her Blanchett delivers a choking speech in her lawyer's office. She has a charisma and a glamour all of her own, surely equal to that of the stars of the forties and fifties, enhanced by the clothes she was able to wear. The camera seems to follow her like a needy child. The final, trembling and delicious scene, which comes as an epilogue after the reprise of the opening, is enacted almost entirely by the features of her exotically beautiful face and especially by her eyes which look right, then left then straight ahead. Glittering elegance and stillness.

The period and the New York backdrop were confidently evoked, especially by scenes in Packards and Chevies locked in traffic. The score added to the pathos and the tension but always had a sense of rising. It is hard to understand how this film failed to win any Oscars.

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