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Review: Carol

Carol, the romantic drama that served as the finale of the Cork Film Festival, ensured that the 60th year of the festival ended with a bang. The romantic-drama about two women who fall in love in 1950s New York was a certified hit at Cannes last May, and rightly so. Directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol takes us back to winter in 1950s, where a young shop assistant Therese (Mara) meets a glamourous older woman named Carol (Blanchett) while she is buying a Christmas present for her daughter. The two quickly embark on an affair that due to the time in which the film is set, could potentially have dire consequences for them both. Set against subplots involving Carol’s bitter divorce with her possessive husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) and Therese’s ambition to become a photographer, the love story takes centrefold as we follow the affair through the eyes of Therese.

Carol was filled to the brim with stand-out performances, most notably from Rooney Mara’s character Therese. Mara portrays Therese’s quirks beautifully, providing us with a relatable and memorable character whose story captivates us from the get-go. Cate Blanchett’s performance was also quite memorable, however the character of Carol didn’t resonate with me as much as Therese’s character did. Possibly due to writing issues, I felt we weren’t given an incredibly in-depth look into the titular character. Most notably, I thought that one of the key features of both the story, and Carol’s character, her supposed love for her daughter Rindy, wasn’t sufficiently delved into enough. We were given mere glimpses of Carol’s relationship with Rindy, and due to the fact that the custody battle between Carol and her husband is a prominent aspect of the story, I felt it wasn’t enough to develop a truly believable mother-daughter relationship.

Aside from that, the leading women are wonderfully complemented by performances from Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson and Cory Michael Smith, who all stand out in their respective roles. Also, the film itself is absolutely gorgeous. It boasts amazingly intricate costume and production design, which is subtlety fifties in style but also not overtly obvious, and the score which acts as a constant presence throughout the film is beautiful. The cinematography within the film also deserves a mention. By constantly shooting his actresses gazing out of car windows, standing in snow or by framing them in incredibly unique ways, Todd Haynes ensures that Carol is a visual treat from the beginning to the end.