Carol Screen 54 articles

Carol

2015

Carol Poster
  • There may have been a casting mistake with Mara, whose talent is unquestionable, but whose doll-like, straight-faced demeanor is in a serious need of personality. As such, the romance that is supposedly boiling beneath the surface feels too implied, never palpable.

  • Working for the first time from someone else’s script, Haynes retains his knack for parsing and navigating subtext, while Ed Lachman’s Super 16 mm camerawork blends stiff compositions with rugged and grainy textures, suggesting a world restrained from forbidden touch. But while Mara and Blanchett are typically good as vulnerable individuals, they’re never all that convincing as two people in love with each other.

  • [Blanchett, Mara & Paulson] are exceptionally well cast for the roles, and yet their chemistry is lacking, the film carries none of the sensuality of the central relationship, the pressing worries or ecstatic freedom. Haynes plays for an odd middle-ground that refuses to commit to the observant distance of, say, a Stahl or Douglas Sirk, the reflexivity of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or the sensual, empathetic elisions of someone like Claire Denis, whose work a few dreamy reveries in Carol suggest.

  • Haynes admirably recreates the stultifying rigidity of the US’s post-war era – a period which, in light of the similar setting of his Sirk-homage Far from Heaven (2002), is evidently a pole of attraction for the filmmaker – but the result is, inevitably, an icy, stiff film, where premeditated aesthetic perfection trumps lively spontaneity. In other words, Carol is a perfectly respectable piece of cinema, but it is not what I go looking for in the seventh art.

  • Think I’m at the point with Todd Haynes where he’s mostly ceased to surprise me. And by that I mean do much of anything unexpected. Of course there will be the slightly academic appropriations of Sirk and Fassbinder. But now there’s also a square respectability to his approach that I find deflating.

  • The camera obscures its two women in the glare of windshields and windows. You see the backs of their heads almost as frequently as you see their faces. “Keep this room orderly,” reads a sign in the staff cafeteria at Therese’s department store, and on that front Mr. Haynes’s doesn’t disappoint. This is a work of respectful restraint.

  • This isn't nearly Haynes' best work – it doesn't even match the moving sensibility of his five-hour TV series "Mildred Pierce" – but here's a director who knows and cares deeply about his female characters.

  • As with every one of his films, Haynes handles the material with the utmost grace and compassion, but the film feels far more flat emotionally than Far From Heavenor Velvet Goldmine. Signs of a pulse perk up in the final act, which showcases just how good both actors can be when given the free reign to confront each other’s doubts honestly and cinematically.

  • This recreated NYC is stunningly immersive from the opening shot, which slowly lifts from a grate in Grand Central Station to follow a man out of the station, into the street and around the corner, craning higher and higher to show off a number of extras, period cars, etc. The feeling of a real, extant world is intensely expansive, and — if you’re the kind of viewer who looks at how money is distributed on-screen — seemingly impossibly expensive.

  • Even if the baroque, neo-Sirkian affectation of Haynes's Far from Heaven is long gone, swapped for a fine-grained modernist flatness in Super 16mm, the same fault lines of uneasily projected identity and subsequent, bitter disappointment remain.

  • As is often the case with Haynes’ films, Carol has been deemed overly chilly by some, but demonstrative and deeply felt aren’t always the same thing, and this unsentimental but intensely passionate relationship serves as exhibit A. The jolt of electricity that courses through Carol’s body the first time Therese casually touches her hand, as they sit opposite one another at a diner, having a bland conversation, communicates more than any number of Nicholas Sparks-style kisses in the pouring rain.

  • The passivity and functionality of their courtship might initially come across as cold in the opening stretch, and Terry's fussbudget agitation that was key to the book is entirely MIA here. Yet, Haynes is playing a longer game, and saves his sucker punches for an exemplary, heart-wrenching final reel. Perhaps the greatest compliment you could pay Carol is that it contains – to this writer – one of the most perfectly executed and poignant utterances of the words “I love you” in screen history.

  • Even high expectations don’t quite prepare you for the startling impact of “Carol,” an exquisitely drawn, deeply felt love story that teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order.

  • Haynes crafts a tender, devastating romance but also surveys a battleground of power and control... This is a film that knows all too well the potency of gesture and delivers some of its most devastating scenes in close-up: a possessive hand placed on a shoulder, a finger inching towards a phone’s hang-up button, and most of all the eyes of Carol and Therese, full of longing, staring out of car windows.

  • With such an unadorned plot and an emphasis on the indirect and unspoken, the task of carrying the film was always going to fall to the actors. Both Blanchett and Mara generate a whole universe of feeling and tension with even the tiniest of facial tics or eye movements, two perfectly expressive faces so well matched that, in one early date scene between Carol and Therese, it's as if they can't help overlapping.

  • Haynes has realized a period piece of exceptional beauty. Shot in grainy Super 16 mm and using a color palette heavily indebted to the paintings of Edward Hopper, each frame is sumptuous and overflowing. Both the costume and production designs are extraordinary, and whenever the film enters a new room or the characters don another outfit, it’s a delight to scrutinize every inch of Lachman’s deep focus compositions and try and take in the abundance of exquisite detail.

  • This is a beautifully modulated piece of filmmaking, as smooth and cool as marble, in which one oft-lauded actress and one who is still not quite on the great-actress radar — Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — play women who defy the rules of society, and propriety, by falling in love.

  • Haynes makes unhappiness beautiful. It makes sense that he’s a fan of Edward Hopper, whose paintings inform this film profoundly. In fact, it’s an Edward Hopper picture as surely as Far From Heaven was a Douglas Sirk picture: think of the diners, the angular rooftops, those forlorn people sitting on the edges of beds.

  • I adored it, and want to protect it from people walking in anticipating genius. It’s a woozy, grainy trance of a film, so in love with exactitude that its froideur would be intimidating were it not for the superb implication of raging passion beneath a glacial social surface that Cate Blanchett gives to the society lady of the title.

  • Almost tout le monde has gone over the moon for “Carol,” Todd Haynes’s exquisitely directed and acted drama about women in love in 1950s America, starring the well-matched Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

  • Shot in Super 16mm by Edward Lachman, the film is an aesthetic marvel, Haynes’s most formally controlled work yet. The approach yields a chamber-like ambience and uniformity of tone—an effect deepened by Blanchett and Mara as they speak in soft-spoken rhythms—which some may find tiresome, but which can prove rather hypnotic in concert with the film’s steadfast undertow of desire.

  • Carol is retro but entirely unironic, and deeply involving. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are sophisticated and affecting, Sandy Powell’s costumes and Ed Lachman’s photography are sublime, and it’ll make you cry.

  • Sixty-three years [after the publication of The Price of Salt], Carol, Todd Haynes’s simultaneously controlled and rapturous adaptation of Highsmith’s book, arrives at a moment of inexorable homonormativity. (I happened to see Carol the night before the Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling on gay marriage.) The latest work by one of the pioneers of New Queer Cinema doesn’t romanticize the closet but passionately salutes lovers who exist outside the law.

  • This is Haynes’s best work, and certainly his most organic. The Sam Fuller maxim about motion as emotion is perfectly applicable. Carol is his most dynamic film, whether it be the recurring travel by car or the kinesis within individual shots.

  • [Haynes has] apparently applied that remarkable brain of his to the problem of how to let me become invested in his protagonists because I fell head over heels in love with "Carol." It’s a film of real, relatable moments presented as the most important aspects of its characters lives together

  • Carol asks that we disregard stereotypical notions of sexuality and merely do the same. It’s a film that luxuriates in details, in textures, and specificity of places and costumes, and the particulars of Carol and Therese’s sexuality are absolutely crucial, yet also not the endpoint.

  • I would say it’s as experimental as earlier more seemingly audacious work by Todd Haynes despite being more conventional in subject matter and execution. Surely in 2015 a film about lesbians can’t feel transgressive but the film itself is very much more than its story.

  • While capturing the chill of inhibited longings and New York winters, Carol chips away at its own shimmering surface, evoking the violence often required, toward oneself and toward others, to attain self-knowledge. The script, images, and performances all reveal sharp edges.

  • What’s remarkable about Carol is that it seems to exist entirely in the present moment—to be precise, in that electric, elastic, heart-stopping/heart-racing present of romantic desire. It is a film composed of gestures and glances, its delicacy a veiled promise of abandon. And it could not exist without the extraordinary performances of Blanchett and Mara, who summon the entire lifetimes of their characters in their eyes and in the timbre of their voices.

  • I'm betting that Highsmith would have loved Carol even though it's a Todd Haynes film in every fiber of its being. Every line of willfully stilted dialogue, every hand resting briefly on a shoulder, every rain-soaked cab window, every stitch of every crimson-saturated scarf and fringed lampshade, every note of Carter Burwell's splendidly lachrymose score, functions as signage of something to do with the mighty clash between desire, propriety and duty that is Haynes' magnificent obsession.

  • When the film is successful it shows the loneliness of people not allowed to be who they are, although "loneliness" doesn't cover it. It's more like alone-ness so acute the characters are "flung out of space", as Carol observes of Therese. When intimacy finally comes, it is accompanied by loss. First love is often like that, but in "Carol" it's intensified because their connection must remain hidden.

  • It was through romantic rush that the excavations of an era in Carol made themselves known to me—simply, the yearning of Terese, the abandon sought by Carol as she pursues and professes not to know what she’s doing, and does, and doesn’t—the two arriving from different directions (self-discovery, utter unknowns for Terese; and known unknowns for Carol, yet despite greater experience and a generation’s worth of years, not necessarily more freedom or security).

  • What's fascinating is that on a deeper look the film has more in common with Haynes' past themes of identity and artifice but is presented more subtly, smuggled in the Trojan Horse of realism. Rooney Mara gives an exquisite performance of small vibrations, which is in contrast to Cate Blanchett's Carol, an earthquake of old-fashioned glamour.

  • The dialogue is as carefully calibrated as all else in this film. Everyone is exact but not too eloquent. They hit their mark when it’s their turn to speak, saying no more or no less than what will move things along. Flirtation is a question of reading between the lines. Haynes’ taste for rendering surfaces that are pregnant with underlying tension is the ideal way to infer that the homophobic social context is driving them to a dance of delicate wording.

  • Elegant restraint is the film’s watchword – it seduces its audience as nimbly as it does Rooney Mara’s awestruck Therese. We’re reeled in by the exquisite dance of gestures exchanged over a crackling martini-fuelled lunch or an elaborately innocent upstate New York visit: darting eye meets, questioning glances, shared smiles.

  • Sitting far back, I saw the artifice in the actresses' glacial, theatrical precision. Up close, their performances deliver a tremulous, tensile control, a precision that shivers with the passions straining to break out just below the surface—the surface of behavior, the surface of decorum, the surface of the skin.

  • The movie’s sensory evocation of falling in love, with all its joys and miseries, is gender-blind; its critique of patriarchal power-hoarding and bourgeois repressiveness—the Sirkian theme Haynes previously explored in Far from Heaven (2002)—is timeless.

  • Among the virtues of Todd Haynes’s new film, Carol, is the delicacy, the patience, and the sheer amount of screen time that it lavishes on the experience of falling in love: the hesitations and doubts, the seemingly casual exchanges freighted with meaning and suppressed emotion, the simple happiness of being together.

  • It’s almost irrelevant to note (but of course it should be noted) that Carol is arty, somewhat ‘slow’, not for all tastes. It’s a story of self-denial, as opposed to self-assertion or fighting the bigots. Blanchett does get one powerful speech – what we’ll call her Oscar clip – but mostly her performance lies in rueful tenderness and allowing emotions to ripple across that great pool-like face (Mara, in perhaps a more difficult role, makes Therese convincingly aloof and perplexing).

  • Behind closed doors, [Carol and Therese] let down their guard—and it’s here that the reticence Haynes has employed pays off. The depiction of their sex is a masterstroke of controlled tone and motivation, of pent-up emotions freed. Therese is still unsure, but Carol guides her; Carol has always been guiding her, since their initial meeting as clerk and customer at a department store. Therese finally reconciles her feelings in a language she’s familiar with: love.

  • Tender, seductive, immaculately crafted. Also displays a side of Rooney Mara I really enjoy seeing, one in which she seems kind of happy.

  • It’s impossible to overstate the social importance of images in both shifting the terms of acceptance and allowing individuals to better understand their own position... Even as Carol offers the therapeutic value of its images, its most thrilling pleasure is that its characters themselves, as Therese says so many times and Carol says memorably once, don’t know what they’re really feeling. They’re simply feeling it and acting on it as they can.

  • The lush atmosphere Haynes creates with his excellent cinematographer, Ed Lachman, isn't as sterile as the germophobic bubble world of his 1995 classic Safe, but it's very nearly as tense. The screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy, a filmmaker and friend of Highsmith's who shepherded the project for more than two decades and through myriad production setbacks, supplies a taut script that occasionally echoes Brief Encounter, even Lolita.

  • The movie captures “a same-sex point of view” on the seductions of cinema as no other film quite has, and its consciousness of itself as a representation is a crucial antidote to the politics of inclusion, visibility, and positive images that drive mainstream discourses of tolerance and earnest Tumblr feeds alike.

  • [Blanchett is] so striking it's almost shocking when she unravels how human and vulnerable she is. A powerful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "The Price of Salt," it’s a road movie, something of a thriller, a period picture that faces a taboo theme in 1950s America -- lesbianism, and a love story that's full of beautiful and painful yearning. Sublime.

  • Carol is unique among Haynes’s films in that it invites us to witness an intimacy that others have failed to notice. And when we ask what happened, the film actually provides an answer.

  • The film whose shorthand for many has become “that lesbian melodrama” is so much more: a radical, subversive, yet somehow miraculously warm meditation on desire, fulfillment, otherness, and the nature of seeing and being seen... Todd Haynes handily undermines the male gaze through both the film’s content—a transformative relationship between two women who feel no need to defend nor deny their love—and structure, in the shifting perspectives as their romance unfolds.

  • As with Haynes’ other period melodramas, the costuming and set design in Carol act not as value-neutral recreations of ’50s style, but as essential aesthetic components of Carol and Therese’s relationship. Every item in Cate Blanchett’s wardrobe—gloves, earrings, nail polish, fur coat—has been selected and shot with the knowledge that a woman’s self-presentation can function both as a tool and as a trap.

  • The secret weight of a hand on a shoulder is becoming a motif of gay cinema, but rarely is it deployed with such detailed purpose as in Carol. Every third line explodes. “Ask me things.” Then there are the shots of everyone else, the shopgirls at lunch in the cafeteria, the old couples on the sidewalk, best of all the lesbians here and there that reveal a rich shadow society that’s probably everywhere if only you knew to look. When you get past the grate, Carol’s enormous.

  • It's telling that Therese, in coming to Carol, has to leave a party of peers her own age. And it's a testament to the filmmakers that in Therese's final choice—a "happy ending" in the sense that release wins out over repression—the audience should feel not just rapture, but danger. And they should be seduced by it anyway. This may be the simplest story Haynes has ever told. Done right, few things are more complex.

  • If politicizing love hurts love and politics both, does that mean that love does not have a politics? The story told in Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt and in Todd Haynes’s gorgeously acted filmic version, Carol seems, at first glance, to present love as essentially beyond or outside of politics, and especially beyond queer politics. We never, for example, hear the words “lesbian,” “homosexual,” or “gay.”

  • Ed Lachman’s cinematography, in Super 16mm, is by far the most ravishing and understated among these films, a subtle tribute to the medium best suited for the intimacy of furtive glances and hushed conversations. The film is a triumph of art direction and wardrobe, a seductive art object. When Carol tells her husband “we’re not ugly people, Harge,” she is telling the truth about a film that finds beauty in bad situations.

  • It really wasn’t until a little less than a third of the way through the film, after several decadent scenes of Therese and Carol getting lost in delectably nervous dialogue and sumptuous gazes and exquisitely drab shots setting up Therese’s mundane, silently craven life, that the potency of Carol struck me. I found myself hopelessly enraptured by the film’s meticulously flawless and at times excruciatingly realistic depiction of the ineffability that typifies so much of the queer experience.

  • The screenplay may present the familiar components of a coup de foudre (love at first sight), but the need that Carol and Thérèse have for one another is supra-sexual. The film—recently voted the greatest LGBT film of all time, in a poll conducted by the BFI—is not about lesbianism but desire, and its power both to intoxicate and invigorate. Injustice stacks all the cards against Carol’s characters, yet they thrive: they are both pitiful and indomitable.

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