Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Finally, Carol

Well, they kept us waiting long enough for it. I first posted this photo here (below) from the film last year in May 2014 (see Blanchett, Highsmith labels). CAROL did not appear for last year's Oscar race, and finally previewed at Cannes this year back in May, when Rooney Mara won best actress. Then it was decreed that we should wait six months more to see it as it would not open until this year's Award Season, as all the other Oscar-bait movies appear one by one juggling for our attention - BROOKLYN and THE LADY IN THE VAN beat CAROL into the cinemas - as per reviews below. Do movies usually take a year and half to surface .... ? Blanchett has been involved with several other projects since.

CAROL is finally here and certainly worth the wait - if one knows and admires the work of Highsmith and director Todd Haynes, here mining the same seam as he did for FAR FROM HEAVEN. Like BROOKLYN we are back in 1950s New York as Therese works in a department store before Christmas and becomes bedazzled (as who wouldn't) by the vision of Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird, a married woman facing a divorce, in that fur coat. The women are immediately attracted to each other, and Carol "forgets" her gloves - leading to a further meeting .... 

The story, from Highsmith's acclaimed novel "The Price of Salt" later called "Carol", follows their developing passion and society's attempts to thwart it - namely Carol's husband Herge (Kyle Chandler) who is seeking sole custody of their child and who hires that detective to follow Carol and Therese on their car trip west. Therese's boyfriend also disapproves of her "crush" on Carol .... This is all marvellously worked out to the very satisfying, heart-stoppingly emotional ending. Of course it all looks marvelous, as in BROOKLYN the 1950s New York scene is perfectly realised as we linger over the clothes, and every marvellous moment. In keeping with the period, they smoke a lot too. Its a road movie as well as they travel on stopping at motels and hotels, great automobiles too. One cannot but think of Grace Kelly and elfin Audrey Hepburn playing these roles back in that early 1950s timeframe .... Rooney is a startling hybrid of early 50s Jean Simmons and Audrey. 
Production design (think Edward Hopper) is marvellous as is the varied soundtrack and costumes by Sandy Powell, and script by Phyllis Nagy. The varied producers include Blanchett, the Weinsteins and Stephen Wooley and our Film4. 
Cate and the mesmersing Rooney (new to me) should both be Oscar-nominated - but both as Best Actress? Rooney is hardly Supporting as we see everything through her eyes, as in the novel - the two leads seem evenly matched to me, as we watch them at that first meeting at the store, and then at lunch and on their car trip and those intimate scenes. They will have stiff competition however as Saoirse Ronan and Dame Maggie Smith should also be nominated. (As the "Daily Telegraph" says: "Blanchett does career-best work in the generally wonderful Carol, but having won two years ago for Blue Jasmine (and in 2004 for The Aviator), a third so soon – putting her on a par with Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman – at the moment seems statistically improbable").

I would like to see the film as a Best Film contender as well and a win for Haynes as director - I must go back to his VELVET GOLDMINE.. CAROL has got great reviews - like this one by Tim Robey from "The Daily Telegraph" -
        - and is already on several Year's Best lists: number 3 in "Sight and Sound" and number 4 in "Uncut" magazine. 

So, will CAROL appeal to the mainstream as opposed to gays, hipsters and fashionistas who will be in raptures over it? I suppose there's always a market for girl-on-girl stuff, but there is nothing salacious here. Is it a new BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN? - but with a happier ending. Like BBM, this film turns cliché on its head and is a swoonsome period/genre film that shows how falling in love can lead to finding joy in difficult circumstances. As such, it was deeply satisfying to this viewer. BRIEF ENCOUNTER is a reference point too, as the lovers' climactic meeting is interrupted by a casual friend ....


  1. Another splendidly written review. I had hoped to see it yesterday but you know what happened .... Ah well, perhaps on Monday. Do you think I will pick it as my film of the year? (45 YEARS is the most likely candidate so far).

  2. You just might. THE DANISH GIRL looks a must-see too, from the trailer. Redmayne is amazing again,this time in drag snogging Ben Whishaw, who seems to be everywhere.

  3. Sight and Sound didn't like THE DANISH GIRL at all and CAROL hasn't overtaken 45 YEARS in my book. Nice to see Rampling get the LA Critics prize and, of course, Redmayne in drag should earn him a Best Actor nomination.