A beautiful, enchanting, intimate, alluring & powerfully evocative story of love, Todd Haynes’ Carol is an elegantly crafted, mesmerisingly told & gorgeously rendered cinema that brims with irresistible charm, inescapable temptation & overwhelming emotions to work as an intensely captivating period romance, and is effectively fuelled by its first-rate production design, awe-inspiring photography & outstanding performances from its leading ladies.
Set in New York during the 1950s, the story of Carol follows Theresa Belivet; a young girl who works at a departmental store, wants to be a photographer, and dreams of a better existence. Her life changes forever when she meets Carol, an older woman going through a divorce, and there is an instant spark felt between the two. As days pass, their relationship blossoms but it is soon brought to a halt when Carol’s husband tries to get the custody of their daughter by bringing Carol’s secret life to light.
Directed by Todd Haynes, Carol casts its spell from its opening moments as within few minutes into the movie, the viewers find themselves completely immersed in the narrative. Haynes takes a very methodical approach in bringing the whole story to life, for he relies on minimal dialogues and allows accurate body language & subtle expressions of its characters to give a clear, precise notion of what’s going on while Phyllis Nagy’s screenplay remains in service on its characters, and progresses their arcs with unflustered effectualness.
The whole experience is made all the more enriching by its wonderfully executed technical aspects. Production design team does a splendid job in recreating the 1950s settings, while the authentic costumes, make-up & hairstyling bring added genuineness to its depicted timeline. Cinematography radiates a sense of warmth despite the wintry ambience enveloping its frames, and nearly every image is expertly composed & is aesthetically pleasing to look at. Editing allows the plot to unfold at its own unhurried pace yet its 118 minutes is over earlier than expected.
As far as performances go, Carol features a committed cast in Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler & Sarah Paulson, with Blanchett & Mara stealing the show with their excellent rendition of Carol & Theresa, respectively. While Blanchett delivers a high-quality performance which is always expected from the revered actress, Mara takes it a notch further in what’s possibly her finest work to date, for she illustrates the pent-up emotions of her character with sublime accuracy, plus her chemistry with Blanchett is immensely convincing & instantly captivating.
On an overall scale, Carol is an incredibly infatuating, effortlessly hypnotising & intensely haunting romance drama that puts its viewers into a trance with great subtlety, and leaves a sweet aftertaste that keeps itching them to go back & relive the entrancing experience all over again. Although I’m not as enamoured by it as so many people seem to be, I also find myself unable to stop thinking about it, for Carter Burwell’s magical soundtrack has been continuously playing on loop in my head ever since the film ended. Touching, heartwarming & heartbreaking in equal doses, Todd Haynes’ ode to human affection is as addictive as love itself.