Carol is a story of forbidden love in the vein of Brokeback Mountain, but instead of two Cowboys, you have two women of different ages and backgrounds falling for each other in early 1950s New York. The romantic drama stars Academy Award Winner Cate Blanchett as the title character who falls for a Manhattan shop girl named Therese played by Rooney Mara. The two engage in a relationship that was deemed highly inappropriate and even deviant for the time and place.
Cate Blanchett shows again why she has two Oscars sitting on her shelf in Carol. She is a force on-screen playing a woman of high-class who’s willing to blow up her life to show who she really is. Blanchett shows a range of emotions in Carol and will make a strong case for another Oscar with this role. Her costar Rooney Mara may give Blanchett some company in the lead actress category as well. Rooney is perfect as the lonely New York shop girl who awkwardly falls for Carol’s charm. Mara takes Therese from being a shy little mouse to a woman who knows exactly what she wants out of life even if it makes her an outcast.
Director Todd Haynes gives a twist to the audience in Carol with this story of budding romance. Hollywood has depicted gay men in film pre 1960 many times, but lesbianism has never really explored in this type of love story. It’s not like women began falling for other women starting in the 1960s. Odds are it’s been happening since the birth of humanity. Haynes shows it may have been frowned upon by society, but normal loving relationships between two women were occurring during a time of intolerance in our country.
Carol is a simple story of love at first sight with very complicated implications. The story is told slowly, but Blanchett and Mara prevent you from feeling fatigued by the slow pace with their stellar performances as the two star crossed lovers. Besides the excellent acting jobs by the two leads, Carol works because it’s relatable. Everyone has fallen hard for someone when the odds are stacked against you. Carol shows the road to love isn’t always pretty and perfect with a bow on top, but that’s what makes the film such an interesting and beautiful viewing experience.
Overall, I give Carol 3.25 out of 4 stars.