Set in 1950s New York, Carol follows Therese (Rooney Mara) a young department-store clerk who dreams of a better life, as she meets and begins to fall in love with the very glamorous Carol (Cate Blanchett) – an older and married woman. The storyline is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, and sees Therese and Carol – who are from two very different backgrounds – begin an unexpected love affair.
As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother due to her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson). She must then choose whether to fight for full custody in the divorce or go back to her husband and play the dutiful wife.
Carol is beautifully shot with lots of extreme close-ups on characters faces in order to really see their emotions during critical times – for example we are able to watch Therese as she begins to fall for Carol and her initial confusion towards those feelings – all of which are portrayed wonderfully by Rooney Mara. It’s essentially a period drama and the costumes/props all match New York in the 1950s perfectly, you will feel like you have been transported there!
The storyline is very good but it does take a while to really get going. The first half is very slow and filled with lots of conversations which did get a little boring, but once the relationship between the two females gets going the pace then speeds up. There is also a twist near the end which changes everything! The film starts in the present time when the women already know each other and then slips back to show us how they met and the journey they went on to get to the present situation.
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are both exceptional as their characters. Rooney pulls off the young naive Therese perfectly, and her character beautifully contrasts Cate’s Carol who is older, wiser and stronger. Though both women are hetersexual in real life the chemistry between the two is very believable, making their relationship all the more realistic.
Overall, Carol is beautifully made and the acting is brilliant, but it is quite a slow film so if you do watch it then just hang on in there because it does pick up! It’s also just received 5 Golden Globe nominations including Best Drama, Best Director, Best Score and Best Actress for both Cate and Rooney!