Thanks to Transmission Films we had the chance to Carol before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!

It seems almost everything that Cate Blanchett touches, turns to gold in the world of cinema. But of course, just saying that would not give justice to all the other amazing people that helmed the amazing film which is Carol. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel: The Price of Salt, it’s hard to find many flaws in this Todd Haynes directed film that delivers a romantic drama with an edge.

Set in the 50s, Therese (Rooney Mara) is a young aspiring photographer that’s working as a department store clerk. One day, she happens to come across a distinguishably beautiful, older woman by the name of Carol (Cate Blanchett). The two engage in some very lovely exchanges and starts to develop a romantic attraction for each other and of course, the rest is history. Though not without our two lady protagonists both facing their own personal life shackles along the way.

This film’s dynamic duo of Blanchett and Mara produces a performance that delivered prowess and then some with great attention to detail to their respective characterizations. Blanchett commands her character’s persona well within the time period with pristine tone of that classic nostalgic American accent and countless moments where you feel that this is a woman with a battle inside her. As the married woman with everything to lose, you can see it all in her state of vulnerability which can easily divert to something more positive when the time is needed with a seamless, nature transition of a human that’s just soldiering on. Blanchett’s wise and mature performance provides a great juxtaposition to Mara’s where Therese emphasizes on the innocence of her youth with that sense of adventure that is still being held back by her own inner conflicts. You can’t help but be fond of the faint yet adorable expressions of curiosity and sadness that goes hand in hand in portraying a character that’s deeply confused but passionate in what she wants out of life which we can all relate to some extent.

Both of these potent actresses provides that classic adage of fine acting where every little detail, every tiniest movement of their facial or bodily features tells us something about our characters. And the camera catches that whenever it can. Thus these subtle moments of acting rewards repeated viewings where you are sure to find more and more little character insights to fuel the weight of the drama.

The cinematography really looks…immaculate. The shots are calm, steady and confident in integrating itself to beautifully capture every moment it needs to and not a moment more. Such pristine and tender camera work present a wonderful symphony of zeitgeist for the viewer into what its like to live in such a time period of yesteryear. It all works in tandem with the set design from the interiors to exteriors of Manhattan, 1952 which are incredibly ambitious but not noticeable during the viewing as we are so simply immersed in our protagonists navigating through such a world. The film even captures a sense of film noir where various aspects such as a sense of mystery, the use of symbolic smoke and cigarettes along with a seemingly criminal element of the plot all combine together to compliment the romantic plotline which really adds some refreshing shades of splendor into a film genre riddled with clichés. Such film noir elements further pay tribute to the 1950s time period along with some nice music of its time such as the ever so lovely tunes of Billy Holiday which even finds its way into the plot without feeling gratuitous.

Carol is a fine example of a well executed film from start to finish. Few goings to the cinema will make you feel like you’re actually watching a quality film like this one and with the performances of our two female leads, you’re guaranteed an experience of believable and somewhat hard to predict tale of love and mystery. A true contender for the Oscar season.

Carol – In cinemas January 14

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