Friday, December 25, 2015

Carol Review - 4 Stars

“Carol” combines style and nostalgia with tension and longing, in a period gay romance set in the early 1950’s. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara bring out the best in each other's talent. Based on a 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith (“Strangers on a Train,” among many others) the story begins as Mara takes a temporary job, selling toys in a department store at Christmas. Blanchett arrives, and the pair discuss the merits of various toys (including dolls versus train sets.) Blanchett is a wealthy suburban housewife and mother, in the process of divorcing her bullying husband Kyle Chandler. By the end of her interaction with Mara, the two sense a connection, which turns into a tentative friendship and ultimately romance. Director Todd Haynes loves the films of the 1950’s and reveres the director Douglas Sirk. “Carol” recreates the look and feel of 1950’s, and turns nostalgia into art. This design triumph makes it possible for viewers to connect emotionally to the two lead actresses. I’m not sure I can call the ending happy; but I think the story plays out in a satisfying and thought-provoking manner. “Carol” has much more going for it than just another story about gay love. Does it deliver what it promises? Surprising, deep, stylish, and emotional. Is it entertaining? Never boring. Is it worth the price of admission? This is one of the best films of 2015.