So I finally got to see “Carol” this afternoon. Todd Haynes’s period romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, with excellent work by Sarah Paulson and Kyle Chandler, makes this love story a certain Oscar contender in all the main categories.
Of course, Ed Lachman, cinematographer extraordinaire, is at the top of the list. He’s out-Madded “Mad Men” from its first season, drawing in elements of his own “Far from Heaven.”
Unlike “Far from Heaven,” Haynes’s last big film, this isn’t an ode to Douglas Sirk or anyone else. It’s based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith called “The Price of Salt.” Like the book, “Carol” takes place in 1952, as Eisenhower ascends as president and New York is still a small town. The next thing these filmmakers should tackle is a Dawn Powell story, like “The Locusts Have No King.” They could do it.
Blanchett is Carol, the wealthy, older beautiful woman divorcing her husband and fighting for custody of her 4 year old daughter. Rooney is Therese, the shopgirl Carol falls for. Yes, kids, this is a movie about lesbians during a time when this could not be discussed. And so there are no lawsuits or appearances on talk shows. Carol’s path is cluttered by silences and nuance as she tries to live her life and keep her daughter. The movie is made with precision and beauty.
We know that Cate Blanchett can do anything, and she does it here once again. This is “Jasmine” from “Blue Jasmine” minus the crazy. Rooney Mara– we mostly know her from the thriller (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”). Therese is her breakout role; if she wants to be Audrey Hepburn now, she can. Guys will see this movie just to see her.
Blanchett heads to Lead actress at the Oscars, Mara to supporting. Each have great chances of winning. Haynes’s direction is full of restraint until it’s time to pull the trigger, and when he does, it’s a cool shot. This is very fine filmmaking.
PS Great soundtrack. Eddie Fisher’s name is even invoked!