Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Todd Haynes' Carol evidences the same disconnect that infuses the lives of its two central characters Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Blivet (Rooney Mara). At one point a young Times reporter, Dannie (John Magaro) who’s got a crush on Therese comments “I’m charting the correlation between how characters behave and what they really feel.” The scene in question takes place in the projection room of a movie theater and Dannie could be commenting on the movie we're watching. One understands why the sexual orientations of Haynes two characters, deriving from the l952 Patricia Highsmith novel, The Price of Salt, or Carol, on which the film is based, run afoul of the mores of the Eisenhower era New York the film portrays. However it’s at the same time hard to comprehend the why and wherefore between Carol and Therese. The idea of the relationship makes total sense, particularly with reference to the cocktail of transgressive sexuality and class that fuels the action, but there’s little magnetism between the two characters (at least as they are portrayed by Blanchett and Mara) There are all kinds of wonderfully subtle touches. Blanchett is the reticent seductress, yet it’s her ambivalent prey who ignites the actual sexuality. In the end, Mara’s eyes seeking out those of her lover never seem to hit their mark. And there are memorable lines. “Just when you think things can’t get any worse, you run out of cigarettes,” Carol says. “I never say no and it’s selfish,” is one of Therese’s signature remarks. The movie’s Manhattan is pure Hopper, off center silhouettes in window frames and lonely street corners illuminated by harsh overhead light. Carol takes the form of a mystery, but the true mystery lies in the nature of an attraction between two people that, at film's end, still remains an enigma.

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