Carol

The divine Lady Blanchett has always delivered Oscar worthy performances, she is a graceful, elegant and powerhouse performer on another level to others in her field, only Meryl comes close on brilliance. How then is it possible for her to pole vault over her own levels of skill and give the unequaled acting performance of 2015?  CAROL releases in Australian on January 14th from the wonderful people at Transmission Films, this is one the MUST SEE MOVIES of January, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 118mins of sublime cinema.

 

Carol Movie Poster Image
Carol | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster Image

 

BY JASON KING

Based on 1952’s THE PRICE OF SALT (or CAROL) from Patricia Highsmith the movie (and book) CAROL tells a tale of 1950’s forbidden love. While essentially a near Romeo and Juliet-esque love story it is also a perfect portrait of the 50’s elegance and inequality, prudishness and the difficulties for homosexuals and lesbians. But the heart wants what the heart wants and love is life and life always finds a way.

CAROL sees a chance encounter from high-society separated house-wife Carol Aird (Lady Blanchett) when purchasing toys in a department store, her younger salesgirl, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is instantly taken aback at the elegance and beauty of Carol and there is an instant connection between the two. Carol is separated from her marriage as she was never happy besides the daughter it produced and she is much happier following her heart, a heart that yearns for love from other women. Carol, by chance, leaves her gloves on the counter when she departs and Therese sends the gloves back via the post to Carol’s home, the quietly confident Carol invites Therese out for lunch as thanks and it is from here a relationship develops, a confused, passionate, elegant and ever so romantic relationship that is also incredibly dangerous.

Harge Aird (Kyle Chandler) is aware of his wife’s other life but is in love and needs to possess Carol, he will do anything to keep her, who wouldn’t JUST LOOK AT HER!! Carol’s beauty would enchant anyone. But Harge doesn’t play fair and in the times homosexuality is still an unspoken and (at times) criminal act, for example, in a custody battle for a child being a homosexual would disqualify you from being a fit parent and Harge can use this against Carol.

 

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Carol | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara)

 

The entire movie is a work of brilliance. It is a love story, a historical portrait, an Edward Hooper inspired work of cinematic art, a drama and above all a technically near perfect film overflowing with talent. Let me get Lady Blanchett out of the way or I will overflow with superfluous superlatives. I can sum up her performance with two things; firstly in this role she underplays everything, as opposed to the over the top role of Jasmine where she never shuts up in this she speaks but only when necessary, the rest is all via facials and eye movements and her sheer destruction of people in this movie with a single eye movement is enough for the Oscar. The opening scene, and later, the same scene but the ending is ruined, devastatingly shattered by a loud interrupting guy you want to kill, more so at the end. The look Cate gives is kind but at the same time sad and violent. Same with the guy in the cafe selling things, the look she gave the guy was enough to make me run away crying if I was playing that character, same with her look at the nanny, that one made me laugh.

Secondly I will leave my final thoughts on Lady Blanchett with my post screening Facebook initial thoughts on the movie:

Can we just give Cate Blanchett every Oscar this year? No acting comes close to the nuanced and skilled magnitude of that performance in Carol – I am just left speechless”

Then there is Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet (pronounced Terez for some reason) the meek little girl opposite the all powerful Blanchett…she is perfect. I know of the younger romance; looking up to the wiser person, the person with all the money and power and how all encompassing and enchanting it is to be with maturity, it makes you feel safe. And the older person is enchanted by the youthfulness (they have passed) and tends to ravish you :). Mara owns this character, she is always shied away from all new experiences, as though wanting to enter them but like a cat in the night, quietly approaching with a nervous determination, ready to flee at a moment’s notice. What the younger people tend to not realise is they hold all the power in these relationships and it is Therese who enchants Carol.

 

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Carol | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett)

 

The level of depth and nuance looking at gay rights of the time is flawless, Carol is basically a wild tiger caged by the society of the times, only able to be her true self behind closed doors with Therese or her ex-girlfriend/ lifelong friend Abby Gerhard, performed by the always amazing, Sarah Paulson, a real-life bona-fide out of the closet lesbian in Hollywood :). Therese on the other hand is a fledgling who is unsure of what she really wants so does what she likes the most at the time, as she herself says “I never say no.” It is nice seeing her mature by the end to work out and go for what she truly desires.

It is remarkable to see the dawning of true acceptance for lesbians and gays evolve the world over (mostly), you would never imagine this would be a mainstream movie twenty years ago, is this the romantic lipstick lesbian Brokeback Mountain? I think so, a film so good that honestly genders are irrelevant, while it speaks out for gay rights and showcases the history of my brethren it never preaches and is just a stunning love story with two leads who have perfect chemistry.

 

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Carol | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett)

 

I predict three or four Oscar wins for CAROL, Lady Blanchett has it in the bag for Best Female Actor, I think Rooney Mara has a damn good chance at best supporting actress, Sandy Powell has it in the Dior bag for incredible costume design and Edward Lachman will give Emmanuel Lubezki a run for his money on THE REVENANT (I think Lubezki will win by a nose). Lachman’s cinematography is stunning, it comes across as technicolor marvel of years gone by. He actually shot the film in a grainy 16mm stock and it works wonders onscreen. His layout for the film as was the same for the art department was all influenced by Edward Hooper paintings and the photography of Vivian Maier and Saul Leiter. Sadly I think he overdid the love for Saul Leiter filming about 70% of the movie through windows or a reflection in glass. Leiter was famous for the wet window looking out on a blurred image and now I have pointed it out you will do nothing but see it, shot after shot after shot all through glass, don’t get me wrong, it looks stunning but overkill came to mind. This was the only thing that let me down from the movie, not let me down, rather disappointed me that a few subtle shots like that would be marvelous but strangling us with them got annoying.

 

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Carol | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett)

 

CAROL makes my top films of the year and is a must see romance that will just flaw you. I bow to thee director Todd Haynes and to you, my goddess, Lady Blanchett.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).