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Release Date:
20th November 2015
118 min
MPAA Rating:
Todd Haynes
Patricia Highsmith, Phyllis Nagy
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p


In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 73%
IMDb Rating 7.3


Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird
Jake Lacy as Richard Semco
Kyle Chandler as Harge Aird
Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet
Sarah Paulson as Abby Gerhard

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JaysonT 20th December, 2015

One of the Most Overrated Films of the Year

I had been looking forward to this film for months, and upon finally viewing it- it's a huge disappointment. Todd Haynes, who's finest achievement is still Far From Heaven (2002), has a knack for creating intimate atmospheres with radiant colors and backdrops. Like Far from Heaven, he succeeds with the aesthetic values of the 1950s by giving us refined art direction and beautiful costumes. Unlike Far from Heaven, we are given wooden characters and a predictable script, with a score by Carter Burwell that sounds exactly like Philip Glass's creation for The Hours (2002). Rooney Mara works in a department store, and finds herself attracted to Cate Blanchett, a well to do married woman who flirts with her while shopping for Christmas presents. Later they have lunch, and in the only truly well acted scene in the film, seem to connect almost instantaneously. The dialogue here is cleverly limited- so we can instead watch the suggestive gestures of both characters that indicate sexual attraction- and tension. It's too bad this is the only scene I felt was able to capture this. The rest of the movie unfolds like a poorly written episode of the series Mad Men, as the women keep meeting up secretly whilst the husband gets suspicious and even hires a detective to follow them to a hotel so he can later gain custody of Blanchett's child. This is because homosexuality is "naughty". Perhaps the reason I felt bored watching Carol was that the material is old and tired. Sexual repression in the 50s? We've seen this so many times. Brokeback Mountain (2005) also dealt with homosexuality with two men- and with much sharper direction and a more interesting story. The actors there were also more believable. Speaking of the acting, Cate Blanchett is indeed the standout. She's not nearly as strong as I had heard or hoped for, but she's none the less ravishing and breathtaking to gaze upon. She's at the peek of her career now, with 2 Oscars under her belt, and indeed Carol should easily earn her a deserved 7th nomination. But besides a juicy scene towards the end, the character isn't that intriguing. There's a lot to be desired, and that easily could be the fault of the screenwriter (Phyllis Nagy), who adapted the script. Yes I get it- it's supposed to be subtle, but this character felt empty. Blanchett is a fine actress- we could have gotten some more fire from her character. Rooney Mara is even more flat. She relies simply on her pretty face. I kept thinking Natalie Portman would have exuded so much more energy with the role, since both women have similar physical dynamics to their facial structures. Mara just comes off weak. There's not an ounce of integrity or feeling coming through with this performance. If that's how she was supposed to play it, then the fault lies in the director. How she won at Cannes is beyond me. She's not impressive at all. She's pretty, but that doesn't constitute good acting. The rest of the cast is easily forgettable. Sarah Paulson has a thankless role, and she's usually very good (watch her in 12 Years a Slave). Mara's boyfriend is the worst acting I've seen all year; very high school drama club. Everyone else is going through their lines in a robotic tone. This could have been an exceptional film. And I'm in the minority who didn't like it (it's currently one of the top reviewed films of 2015, and destined to be crowned with nominations on Oscar morning). But it left me feeling cold, and bored. I might just be sick of seeing movies about the 1950s and how everyone couldn't "talk about things like being gay, and sex, and racial relations" back then. The subject has been hammered over my head too many times. But the trailer for this movie was a love letter. Why couldn't the movie be the same? Mara and Blanchett are supposed to be in love, and yet their first meeting aside- I never really felt a true connection between them. There was never enough juice in their chemistry for me to believe it.

Reviewed by alexlangholm 8th December, 2015

A disappointing film with very little emotional content

**WARNING: Contains plot spoilers** I don't normally write reviews but this is a case where the critics seem to be totally disconnected from what they are supposed to be reviewing. It is weird to see so little dissent in the press about this film. Carol has many good points but more bad points. The good points are the amazing production design and costumes, and the interesting 16mm cinematography (which does get quite grainy at times). The technical side of things is fine, it looks very beautiful and old-fashioned. The main problem is that there just isn't any emotional connection established between the two main characters, or between anyone really. The film doesn't make you care about people or their fates, and doesn't explain why they would care about each other. The very first meeting between Carol and Therese highlights this. Carol tries to seduce Therese because... well, she just does, from the very first moment she lays eyes on her in the department store. We don't know why, Carol has never met her before so presumably it's just because Therese is young and pretty. We don't even see Carol reacting to Therese's beauty, Carol just has this predatory gaze from the very first frame, as if she was determined to find someone, anyone. How much sympathy would we feel for a middle-aged married man doing these things instead of Carol? Because of the way the story unfolds, it is also very hard to shake the feeling that Carol is a rich person who is, in the end, able to get whatever she wants. There ought to be sympathy for Carol being stuck in a dead marriage, but she is getting divorced and already having an affair. There ought to be sympathy for Carol losing custody of her daughter Rindy, but we never really see the mother-daughter relationship enough to understand what this means to her. For example, in the first scene Carol buys her daughter a train set instead of a doll in order to impress the young shop assistant that she lusts after. We later see Carol playing with the train set by herself while thinking of her own problems, we never see the daughter using it. The daughter seems to be little more than a plot device or a prop. There ought to be sympathy for gay lovers being parted by a bigoted 1950s society, but we never really see them as lovers. We see them make love, but there isn't really a scene where they display any kind of chemistry or deep affection. They come together because... well, they just do. To make matters worse, they split up almost as soon as they have got together, so we don't really get the time to feel anything significant has been lost. The saddest part is when Carol dumps Therese so she can go to fight for her daughter's custody, but then when, thanks to her lawyer's manoeuvrings, Carol has a realistic chance of getting joint custody of her daughter, she waives her rights to it. Why? Because it means she can avoid the hassle of a nasty court case. How deep can Carol's love for Rindy or Therese really be if these are her priorities? And why tell us that the custody of Rindy means so much, more than her love for Therese, and then show her abandoning custody? Perhaps the novel explains why this makes sense, but the film certainly doesn't. The two hour running time should have been long enough to get proper emotional connections built up, but instead the director squanders it on overextended scenes that should have been much shorter. It makes the whole film drag on without any character development. At one point Carol's husband Hodge has a door slammed in his face, it ends on a nice shot of his partially-covered features, but it then goes on to show him walking away from the house, getting in a car and driving off. Extending the scene didn't serve any purpose, we know he's annoyed and isolated but he's been annoyed and isolated for the entire film. Another example has Carol and Therese arriving in a hotel, they enter the lobby, they enter the room, they admire the room and then... it cuts to them leaving the hotel. What did we learn about them from this? That they enjoy the decor of expensive hotels? Wouldn't, for example, adding a scene earlier in the film showing Carol doing nothing but playing with her daughter Rindy been a better way to build up the emotional stakes? "Carol" seems to be the kind of film where the subject matter and the reputation of the participants has totally replaced objective assessment of the work itself. Gay rights are important, Blanchett is a great actor and Haynes is a great director. "Carol" is not an important or great film though, it's telling the story of an affair without telling us why the affair happened or why we should care. Its reviews seem to be based on what "Carol" should have been, rather than what it actually is.

Reviewed by Arts Commented 7th November, 2015

Simply beautiful

I watched Carol at the New York Film Festival, days after watching Freeheld. Since both movies talk about love relationship between two women, I was afraid I was going to see the same thing. Gladly, I couldn't be more wrong. Carol is such a beautiful movie, subtler than I had expected. Even though I loved the movie, I'm aware that it's not for everybody. It's not fast paced, as current films tend to be. It takes its time to carefully construct the characters and to make us root for them. Credit is due to the cast, as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are brilliant, and to the director Todd Haynes, who conducts well the story. Moreover, the film is visually stunning, with impeccable make-ups and wardrobes, not to mention the beautiful locations covered in snow while they take a road-trip. Finally, the soundtrack is equally wonderful, with songs that correctly set the tone of their relationship. It probably won't be a box office hit, but I do hope everybody gets a chance to see it eventually. Full review:

Reviewed by cowfeet 1st November, 2015

Subtle, beautiful

I loved this film for the subtleties. Lots of lingering, carefully framed shots and closeups. Lots of quiet scenes. Lots conveyed through looks and innuendo. Rooney and Cate captured what it's like to be nervous yet excited while falling in love. It felt real. It felt like two people unsure of themselves, offering up just a bit of their true feelings at a time and waiting for the other person to do the same before revealing more. Kyle Chandler's performance hasn't been commented on as much as the leads, but he was just as excellent. He played the part of tortured husband well without coming off as a mere villain. I sympathized with him and even understood where he was coming from. I thought the film captured the time period in a very unique way. Nothing was overtly flashy or Normal Rockwell 50s, and at times it even felt gritty compared to most depictions of the era, but it was really beautiful. The film stayed with me on the ride home, and I drove in silence while I reflected on it. That's how I judge a movie. If you are the type that loves character driven films, I'd very much recommend it. If you don't handle slow burn movies well, it might not be for you.

Reviewed by Aneury Camilo 9th October, 2015

Great in every way!

Thanks to the New York Film Festival I got the chance to see this perfectly crafted film early. Carol's nothing short of fantastic. It's story is one of the best romances i've seen put on the big screen. What I love is how nobody makes it a big fuzz about the two lovers being females. It's treated with the same respect as any other romantic drama, and it's done better than most of them. The film is on another level when the two leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are on screen together. Both undoubtedly gave two of the best performances of the year. It's pace is slow, but never boring. Giving us some intense slow-building moments that leaves us smiling or shedding tears. Carol's great. Watch it.