Cannes Film Festival: Carol

Directed by Todd Haynes
Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara

by Joanna Orland

Todd Haynes beautifully directs this adaptation of author Patricia Highsmith’s 1950’s lesbian love story.

The visuals are stunning, with Carol clearly being an excellent companion piece to Haynes’ other works Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce.  The visuals alone provide enough of an impact to make Carol worth watching, but performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are also garnering much buzz from the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

The physical performances of Blanchett and Mara are indeed mesmerizing.  These women can act with merely their facial expressions, and do so for a lot of Carol.  Mara is reminiscent of a young Audrey Hepburn while Blanchett emits an air of sophistication, an obvious draw for Mara’s character Therese who falls for the older married woman.  While there are many visually engaging aspects of Carol, that is where the interest ends.

In spite of delivering good physical performances, there is something in the dialogue delivery of both Mara and Blanchett that feels stunted.  The implied intense relationship between the two women almost isn’t believable as conversations are so imperfect and forced.  The musical score adds to the dissonant feeling of this film as through its repetitiveness, I was lulled into a bit of a doze, while at the same time really wanting to stay engaged with the visuals.  For such a highly stylized film, it seems that all of the effort has gone into the visuals at the expense of other, just as important aspects of storytelling.

Fans of Tom Ford’s A Single Man or another of Haynes’ films Far From Heaven should find Carol a light masterpiece.  For me, these films boast their infallible style over substance, but even so, they result in something very pretty to look at.


Our red carpet interviews with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, writer Phyllis Nagy and producer Christine Vachon.

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