Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Todd Haynes’s Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Carol, stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
"A beautifully crafted piece."

A beautifully crafted piece from Todd Haynes, Carol charts the perilous romantic relationship between two women in 1952 America when moral pressures exerted a cruelly censorious grip.

Based on The Price Of Salt, Patricia Highsmith’s second novel (after Strangers On A Train) it was originally published under the pseudonym of Claire Morgan but is regarded as one of her most autobiographical works.

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Haynes takes his time to allow the story to unfold at a leisurely pace and for Cate Blanchett’s performance as Carol Aird to grow in stature as the affair between her immaculately coiffed New Jersey housewife and the young shop girl Therese Believe (an equally sensitive portrayal from Rooney Mara looking like a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Jean Simmons) develops in intensity and passion.

Set over a Christmas and New Year holiday period just before the start of the Eisenhower era, Haynes and Phyllis Nagy’s script capture an immaculate sense of period while the costumes and the trappings set it all off to perfection as the pair set off on a romantic road trip across country.

At its core is the forbidden love that scarcely can speak its name between the two women, which leads them in to dangerous and uncharted waters with a legal battle with her husband for custody of Mrs Aird’s young daughter.

At first there is only a spark of mutual attraction between them - Therese has had suitors, one of whom is keen to whisk her off to Paris. Her curiosity, however, about the older woman’s interest in her finally finds expression in an intimate love scene that is shot with great sensitivity as well as passion.

It is 17 years since Haynes was last in the Cannes Competition with his glam-rock extravaganza Velvet Goldmine. Carol is more a companion piece to his Far From Heaven which also dealt with sexual double standards.

At this stage in the Cannes Film Festival, Carol stands out from the crowd with Blanchett’s performance surely in the running for a best actress award next Sunday.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2015
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A department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman.
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Director: Todd Haynes

Writer: Phyllis Nagy, based on the book by Patricia Highsmith

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Cory Michael Smith

Year: 2015

Runtime: 118 minutes

Country: US

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Far From Heaven
The Lavender Scare