Review: 'Carol' a beautiful, haunting romance

CAROL: 4 ½ STARS

"Carol," a new film starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, is a love story but one painted in shades of loneliness and longing.

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It’s about love at first sight and how that love that may be too good to last.

1950s New York. Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is an aspiring twenty-something photographer making ends meet as a shop clerk at a big New York department store. The first time she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett) the older woman is a customer looking to buy a gift for her child.

When Carol leaves her gloves behind Therese has them bundled up with the gift and sent to Carol’s home. In thanks, Carol invites Therese for lunch. Over a martini, eggs and creamed spinach sparks fly and the two agree to meet again.

Love is in the air but at a terrible cost. Suspicious that his wife has taken up with a woman, Carol’s estranged husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) threatens to take their daughter and severely limit visitation. Carol must choose between her love for her child and her passion for Therese.

Based on a 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel titled "The Price of Salt," "Carol" is a haunting romance, elegantly directed by Todd Haynes.

Blanchett and Rooney subtly play out the story, making the most of gestures and tentative looks that in most movies wouldn’t register but here convey a richness of emotion. It’s about nuance not grand gestures.

Both Blanchett and Mara do much with limited dialogue. The real performances here are happening internally and their faces and eyes convey as much as any lines of dialogue could hope to.

"Carol" is first-class filmmaking -- cinematographer Ed Lachman even uses Super 16mm film stock to create the grainy feel of a 1950s period piece -- with beautifully wrought, timeless performances and a love story for the ages.



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