Today we review a potential Oscar nominated film for next year’s Academy Awards – by ‘potentially’ I mean definitely and by ‘nominated’ I mean winning.
Carol will no doubt be an Oscar winner in some capacity whether it be direction, design or acting. There are three compelling components to this film for me and each one is as enchanting as the next.
I do believe there are a couple wobbles with a few parts to this film which for me will dent its chances of the ‘Best Picture’ gong. Let me explain…
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.
The film is centred on Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) as two very different women becoming instantaneously attracted to one another. Therese is charmed and enchanted by Carol as the latter lusts for Therese with the essence of actually wanting to be Therese. I have this inkling throughout the film that Carol is lustful of Therese for obvious reasons as well as her youth and freedom.
Cate Blanchett is majestic in her role once again like so many other movies she has helmed. It comes as no surprise as she is one of the best actresses to grace the big screen. She is emotive, warm and addictive in her role as Carol. I am not so convinced with Rooney Mara. I think Mara is helped drastically from Cate’s performance as Rooney’s innocent, quiet and perhaps ‘inferior’ role as the youthful attraction is easier to pull off. Rooney has played a similar role to Therese before in The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and Side Effects. Don’t get me wrong, Mara is still good here but Blanchett blows her away.
As much as I enjoyed the anchoring performances, I felt the narrative fell by the wayside. But in fairness, on reflection; that could be because I was blinded by Blanchett’s masterful portrayal. It just feels the storyline is limited at times. We understand Carol is locked in a loveless marriage with her husband and their child is a sub-plot. Therese operates as Carol’s escape from reality but is also Carol’s drawback as her husband (Kyle Chandler) uses it against her in their marriage battle. It just all feels a bit drawn out for a two hour film. If the acting performances are not as good, I think we would have a totally different movie on our hands.
Todd Haynes serving as director is a true delight. His direction is superbly meticulous. The longing gaze upon both the leads’ faces is shoulder-shudderingly great as his camera leers in. You feel connected to the characters and have a deeper understanding of how they are feeling when he lingers an extra few seconds on their fragile expressions. In particular, his delivery of Carol’s and Therese’s sex scene is expertly shot with audiences becoming silently compelled. It was beautiful cinema that felt so real – one of the best love sequences I have ever seen.
This is the right moment to mention the cinematography too. Edward Lachman, previously a cinematographer on Far From Heaven and Erin Brockovich, is a magician here as he completely transports the audience back to the 1950s - everything you see is from that era. The attention to detail is fascinating from the cars on the street, clothes on hundreds of extras and even cutlery, wallpaper and toys – it’s truly Oscar worthy from Lachman.
So, what are Carol’s chances of Oscar glory? It will get nominated across the board and possibly bag a few wins. It will be nominated in the categories for directing, leading actress, supporting actress, best film, cinematography and costumes I believe. There will be a few more but I don’t want to list the entirety! Rooney Mara will go close to the supporting actress ‘gong’ as will Edward Lachman in cinematography. The movie hasn’t got enough for ‘Best Picture’ and Cate Blanchett only won two years ago for Blue Jasmine so I will be surprised if she is awarded again. But hey… you never know!
Cineroom’s rating: 4 stars
Carol is out worldwide in cinemas – certificate 15.