Carol ★★★½

¨I don't know what I want. How could I know what I want if I say yes to everything?¨

Todd Haynes´s critically acclaimed film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith´s novel (The Price of Salt) is without a doubt very stylish. It is a love story between two women who fall for each other at first sight, although it avoids all the common cliches in the romantic genre. Mostly because the script says very little and everything is told through nonverbal expressions such as glances and touches. It is very restrained and sets the mood very early on transporting the audience to the 50´s thanks to a carefully crafted production and costume design. What´s more impressive is that it does so effortlessly. Carol is a restrained film, but one that Haynes has absolute control over setting the mood from the very first scene. I wasn´t won over by this film as most everyone else seems to be, but I can understand the praise for Hayne´s direction. What I do want to point out is how influential the score of this film is; it truly is something special and it plays a huge role in setting the mood. It is one of the best scores I´ve heard in a film this year.

The film centers on a store clerk named Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) who doesn´t seem to know what direction she wants to take in life. Her passion seems to be photography and that is what she enjoys doing. Her life changes unexpectedly when she encounters an older woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett) who stops by the store one evening to buy a Christmas gift for her child. The two exchange glances at each other and after a few minutes Carol shows up at the register and starts a conversation with her. Carol is currently going through a divorce from Harge (Kyle Chandler), and is in a custody battle for her child. Harge begins discrediting her morality after he discovers her interest in women and uses that to his advantage, but Carol is a determined mother. Therese quickly bonds with Carol, but at the same time she realizes her love could affect her custody battle.

Carol wasn´t nominated for Best Picture as many critics were expecting, but it has received six Oscar nominations. Ironically, Cate Blanchett was nominated in the best actress in a leading role category despite having less screen time than Rooney Mara who was nominated in the supporting category. It doesn´t make much sense, but it has increased Rooney´s chances for winning considering Brie Larson is almost a lock to win for her lead performance in The Room. The other nominations for Carol include Best Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Adapted Screenplay which are all deserving. The film stands out without a doubt for its stylistic direction from Haynes and wonderful performances from Blanchett and Rooney, but above all for its mesmerizing score.

Esteban liked these reviews