Carol

Carol ★★★★½

Simply put, Carol is the best film of 2015. It’s a subtle, charming, patient, artfully directed, and utterly human film—one that avoids manipulation and kitschy excess. It’s my favorite romantic film since Lost in Translation and, in many ways, is a lot like a consummated version of that film: it features an unconventional romance between two disconnected people far apart in age and further apart in temperament.

Whereas Lost in Translation intentionally spurned drama, Carol has no such dearth of theatrical turmoil—its custody battle, in particular, is impressively stirring, owing to Cate Blanchett’s powerful and nuanced performance, portraying the polar opposite of Rooney Mara’s (kind of unimaginative) character. It's the story of two opposites unconsciously and hopelessly attracted to each other—like physics, the film suggests.

Nevertheless, Carol is 2015’s best film not because it is perfect but because no other film is. The film has its low points: its male characters are one-note plot devices, and there are a couple incongruous scenes.

But all in all, Carol is a dazzling, necessary film that engrosses its audience with all-around quality and relevant themes.

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