I’ve always thought of Cate Blanchett as an aloof, ethereal, otherworldly kind of being. Maybe it’s because the first time I saw her, it was as Galadriel in Lord of the Rings, or that I thought that the White Witch in the Narnia series was her when I was little, but whatever the reason, it makes it hard for me to see her in a sexual role on screen.
Blanchett is the titular Carol, a wealthy woman with a husband and a five-year-old child, who happens across the quiet Therese (Rooney Mara), a clerk in a department store who has aspirations of photography. Despite their very different lives, the two are mutually fascinated with each other and eventually begin an affair.
Carol is definitely a slow burning film, revolving very firmly around the two women at the centre of it. While Carol deals with her drawn-out divorce with Harge (Kyle Chandler) and her custody battle, Therese fends off an overly ardent boyfriend, Richard (Jake Lacy) and dreams of being a photographer. After a few meetings between the two women and a particularly bitter fight with Harge, Carol and Therese go on a road trip together, where their feelings for each other come to the fore.
Characters are beautifully drawn and never reduced down to ideas – while Carol’s husband isn’t exactly the hero of the piece, neither is he a bad guy, and neither is Therese’s boyfriend. Instead, each person is just a person, each with their own foibles and traits.
Perhaps not for those who are looking for a fun road trip movie: the women a few rows in front of me were audibly bored forty minutes in (some of it was possibly due to the afternoon drinking before the event), and it does unravel very slowly.
Carol is an intricate, naturalistic drama, sprawling over two hours. It’s not for everyone, but it is a beautiful story with top quality talent and gorgeous cinematography.