Thursday, December 24, 2015

[Review] Carol

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in this well-crafted but ultimately underwhelming tale of forbidden romance.

Set during 1952 in New York City. We meet Therese (Mara), a young woman who works in a department store around Christmas time. She makes a connection with the title character Carol (Blanchette), and the two form an intimate love. But there are societal obstacles in the way. Their sexuality is frowned upon by others, and Carol is currently in the process of divorce from her husband (Kyle Chandler), which creates a custody battle for their daughter. To top it off, Carol is much older than Therese.

The cinematography is lush and even voyeuristic at times, the period detail and atmosphere is wonderfully captured, the performances are very solid (would you expect anything less from Cate Blanchette?), but the narrative just isn't all that engrossing, especially if you're still on a recent Star Wars high. It's slowly paced (even the conversations are full of long pauses), and much of the duration involves the characters staring out windows. We get it--they're thinking about each other and their situation, but it's not the most interesting thing to witness on the big screen, nor does it warrant much replay value.

Carol is one of those films that does a lot of things right on compositional levels, and it's sure to be a significant contender during awards season, but it isn't a viewing that is really going to knock your socks off. Large stretches of time pass where not a whole lot happens. The arguments behind closed doors are fairly typical. Most of the emotion displayed is ramped up melodrama backed by musical cues of crying strings and poignant piano keys. It's a bore.


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