Carol 

 

Half

 

 

Todd Haynes’ sumptuous adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian drama The Price of Salt 

seems more in love with a bygone era than the reality of the characters it details.

 

Carol is in a quandary. Her husband still loves her, they both adore their young daughter, but Carol no longer feels a part of the marriage. In fact, she feels more comfortable in the company of Therese Belivet, a young woman in the employ of a New York department store… The time is the 1950s and the director is Todd Haynes, a filmmaker besotted with morally challenged relationships and the recent past. Haynes also has a weakness for the films of Douglas Sirk, the director of plush, romantic melodramas such as All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life. Haynes previously paid his respects to Sirk with his 2002 drama Far from Heaven, which landed Julianne Moore an Oscar nomination, as well as a nod for Haynes’ original screenplay. Here, he’s taken a novel by Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt, and cast two of the best actresses around as his disorientated female protagonists: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

 

 Carol

 

This being the 1950s, there is much conversation going on behind the conversation, so while subliminal passions marshal their forces, Haynes concentrates on the décor, the language and the perplexingly soft-focus photography. As Carol, Blanchett is a waft of glamour and sophistication, while Rooney Mara as Therese (affecting an air of Audrey Hepburn) stands dazed in the sidelines. Therese’s boyfriend, Richard (Jake Lacy), yells: “you’re in a trance!” If only Carol and Therese were as frank with each other. They seem only to converse in looks and stares and fail to connect on any relatable human level, whiles Haynes himself is too distracted by his allusions and reverence to bring any real life to the proceedings. These are perfectly coiffured mannequins positioned on a moral battlefield that just fails to ignite on any plausible emotional level.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

  

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Cory Michael Smith.

 

Dir Todd Haynes, Pro Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley and Christine Vachon, Screenplay Phyllis Nagy, Ph Edward Lachman, Pro Des Judy Becker, Ed Affonso Gonçalves, Music Carter Burwell, Costumes Sandy Powell.

 

Number 9 Films/Film4 Productions/Killer Films-StudioCanal.

118 mins. USA/UK/France. 2015. Rel: 27 November 2015. Cert. 15.