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160 out of 195 people found the following review useful:

Subtle, beautiful

8/10
Author: cowfeet from United States
1 November 2015

I loved this film for the subtleties. Lots of lingering, carefully framed shots and closeups. Lots of quiet scenes. Lots conveyed through looks and innuendo.

Rooney and Cate captured what it's like to be nervous yet excited while falling in love. It felt real. It felt like two people unsure of themselves, offering up just a bit of their true feelings at a time and waiting for the other person to do the same before revealing more.

Kyle Chandler's performance hasn't been commented on as much as the leads, but he was just as excellent. He played the part of tortured husband well without coming off as a mere villain. I sympathized with him and even understood where he was coming from.

I thought the film captured the time period in a very unique way. Nothing was overtly flashy or Normal Rockwell 50s, and at times it even felt gritty compared to most depictions of the era, but it was really beautiful.

The film stayed with me on the ride home, and I drove in silence while I reflected on it. That's how I judge a movie. If you are the type that loves character driven films, I'd very much recommend it. If you don't handle slow burn movies well, it might not be for you.

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194 out of 294 people found the following review useful:

A disappointing film with very little emotional content

4/10
Author: alexlangholm from United Kingdom
8 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**WARNING: Contains plot spoilers**

I don't normally write reviews but this is a case where the critics seem to be totally disconnected from what they are supposed to be reviewing. It is weird to see so little dissent in the press about this film. Carol has many good points but more bad points.

The good points are the amazing production design and costumes, and the interesting 16mm cinematography (which does get quite grainy at times). The technical side of things is fine, it looks very beautiful and old-fashioned.

The main problem is that there just isn't any emotional connection established between the two main characters, or between anyone really. The film doesn't make you care about people or their fates, and doesn't explain why they would care about each other.

The very first meeting between Carol and Therese highlights this. Carol tries to seduce Therese because... well, she just does, from the very first moment she lays eyes on her in the department store. We don't know why, Carol has never met her before so presumably it's just because Therese is young and pretty. We don't even see Carol reacting to Therese's beauty, Carol just has this predatory gaze from the very first frame, as if she was determined to find someone, anyone. How much sympathy would we feel for a middle-aged married man doing these things instead of Carol?

Because of the way the story unfolds, it is also very hard to shake the feeling that Carol is a rich person who is, in the end, able to get whatever she wants.

There ought to be sympathy for Carol being stuck in a dead marriage, but she is getting divorced and already having an affair.

There ought to be sympathy for Carol losing custody of her daughter Rindy, but we never really see the mother-daughter relationship enough to understand what this means to her. For example, in the first scene Carol buys her daughter a train set instead of a doll in order to impress the young shop assistant that she lusts after. We later see Carol playing with the train set by herself while thinking of her own problems, we never see the daughter using it. The daughter seems to be little more than a plot device or a prop.

There ought to be sympathy for gay lovers being parted by a bigoted 1950s society, but we never really see them as lovers. We see them make love, but there isn't really a scene where they display any kind of chemistry or deep affection. They come together because... well, they just do. To make matters worse, they split up almost as soon as they have got together, so we don't really get the time to feel anything significant has been lost.

The saddest part is when Carol dumps Therese so she can go to fight for her daughter's custody, but then when, thanks to her lawyer's manoeuvrings, Carol has a realistic chance of getting joint custody of her daughter, she waives her rights to it. Why? Because it means she can avoid the hassle of a nasty court case. How deep can Carol's love for Rindy or Therese really be if these are her priorities? And why tell us that the custody of Rindy means so much, more than her love for Therese, and then show her abandoning custody? Perhaps the novel explains why this makes sense, but the film certainly doesn't.

The two hour running time should have been long enough to get proper emotional connections built up, but instead the director squanders it on overextended scenes that should have been much shorter. It makes the whole film drag on without any character development.

At one point Carol's husband Hodge has a door slammed in his face, it ends on a nice shot of his partially-covered features, but it then goes on to show him walking away from the house, getting in a car and driving off. Extending the scene didn't serve any purpose, we know he's annoyed and isolated but he's been annoyed and isolated for the entire film. Another example has Carol and Therese arriving in a hotel, they enter the lobby, they enter the room, they admire the room and then... it cuts to them leaving the hotel. What did we learn about them from this? That they enjoy the decor of expensive hotels? Wouldn't, for example, adding a scene earlier in the film showing Carol doing nothing but playing with her daughter Rindy been a better way to build up the emotional stakes?

"Carol" seems to be the kind of film where the subject matter and the reputation of the participants has totally replaced objective assessment of the work itself.

Gay rights are important, Blanchett is a great actor and Haynes is a great director. "Carol" is not an important or great film though, it's telling the story of an affair without telling us why the affair happened or why we should care. Its reviews seem to be based on what "Carol" should have been, rather than what it actually is.

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133 out of 190 people found the following review useful:

Great in every way!

9/10
Author: Aneury Camilo from United States
9 October 2015

Thanks to the New York Film Festival I got the chance to see this perfectly crafted film early.

Carol's nothing short of fantastic. It's story is one of the best romances i've seen put on the big screen. What I love is how nobody makes it a big fuzz about the two lovers being females. It's treated with the same respect as any other romantic drama, and it's done better than most of them.

The film is on another level when the two leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are on screen together. Both undoubtedly gave two of the best performances of the year.

It's pace is slow, but never boring. Giving us some intense slow-building moments that leaves us smiling or shedding tears.

Carol's great. Watch it.

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82 out of 118 people found the following review useful:

Achingly tender romance about how love is a part of the human condition.

8/10
Author: Sergeant_Tibbs from Suffolk, England
31 October 2015

It's an inevitability that Carol will face categorisation as an LGBT film, but that's not the limits of how it should be considered. It's simply a heartfelt and deeply human love story where the principle couple confronts insurmountable odds. In Carol's case, these obstacles are the prejudices of the time and culture they live in. The film frames this discrimination in a tangible and legal way, as the titular Carol is accused of a morally indecent lifestyle by her ex-husband in order to win custody of their daughter. The film isn't interested in being a courtroom drama though, instead focusing on the blossoming relationship between Rooney Mara's Therese and Cate Blanchett's Carol.

Todd Haynes is known for his heightened style that evokes the melodrama of Douglas Sirk, for instance. His 2002 film Far From Heaven feels plucked from the cinema of the 1950s. However, Carol is a film that feels plucked from the New York streets of the 1950s as the aesthetic here is surprisingly naturalistic. It doesn't quite breach a documentary-esque style with Edward Lachman's understated and pleasantly grainy cinematography, but it all comes organically and authentically with the elegant fashion of production and costume design and the atmosphere that its cold Christmas setting provides. It's a very restrained film – as there are only two particularly intimate scenes – but the film carries an air of sexual and romantic tension throughout.

As Carol, Cate Blanchett challenges her polar opposite and equally excellent work with Haynes as a Bob Dylan incarnation in I'm Not There here. By nature of the film's structure, the first half is in the perspective of Therese and the second focuses on the perspective of Carol. There's an interesting inaccessibility about Blanchett in the first half that draws you into Therese's infatuation. Mara, one of the most promising actresses of this decade since her small memorable part in The Social Network, uses her own reserved detachness – something she's been frequently criticised for – to her own advantage. To watch someone like Therese open up after being so repressed is thoroughly cathartic.

However, Blanchett whips the film from under her feet in the second half. She litters the first half of the film with nuanced hints and clues to her past desires, also communicating so much with very little. She's elusive, but Mara is a key source of intrigue at that point due to the honesty in her performance and unexpected dry wit. Once Carol is struggling to deal with her own internal conflicts, Blanchett is on fire and burns the house down with her ultimate rebuttal of the accusations against her. Kyle Chandler, her suffering husband soon to be ex-husband, shows such painful anguish in his brief outbursts. It's a measured performance that anchors the film and the stakes of the relationships. Every performance of the ensemble – from extras to bit parts – are delivering among their finest work.

It's an all-rounder in terms of Oscar-contention, with Haynes perhaps being a more likely bet for Best Director than the film is for Best Picture. Blanchett has won too recently but if Weinstein works his magic, Mara would be a strong contender in either leading or supporting. Phyllis Nagy will certainly duel with Aaron Sorkin in Best Adapted Screenplay, even if her work is more patient, while the production and costume design ought to destroy competition. A sure bet should be Carter Burwell for his beautiful score that sunk my chest with its few powerful notes. It's an achingly tender film that will be timeless, even if it doesn't resonate with everyone with such specificity. Carol shouldn't just be a statement for our time and a condemnation for past mistakes, it's a demonstration that love is a part of the human condition regardless of sexuality.

8/10

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89 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

Simply beautiful

9/10
Author: Arts Commented from United States
7 November 2015

I watched Carol at the New York Film Festival, days after watching Freeheld. Since both movies talk about love relationship between two women, I was afraid I was going to see the same thing. Gladly, I couldn't be more wrong. Carol is such a beautiful movie, subtler than I had expected.

Even though I loved the movie, I'm aware that it's not for everybody. It's not fast paced, as current films tend to be. It takes its time to carefully construct the characters and to make us root for them. Credit is due to the cast, as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are brilliant, and to the director Todd Haynes, who conducts well the story.

Moreover, the film is visually stunning, with impeccable make-ups and wardrobes, not to mention the beautiful locations covered in snow while they take a road-trip. Finally, the soundtrack is equally wonderful, with songs that correctly set the tone of their relationship.

It probably won't be a box office hit, but I do hope everybody gets a chance to see it eventually.

Full review: http://wp.me/p5Rk4c-f6

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83 out of 124 people found the following review useful:

This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for Carol

10/10
Author: laweat from Los Angeles, CA
21 November 2015

Others have already mentioned the film's beauty, elegance, attention to period detail, acting etc. All amazing. As a gay man "of a certain age" I felt deep gratitude for the gift given by the artists who created this film. The direction is so subtle and effective, using the all the tools of film making to communicate information, meaning, and emotion.

Like Brokeback Mountain, this film turns cliché on its head and transcends the particulars of the protagonists' lives by illuminating more universal themes. It is a period/genre film that acts to balance well established tropes of its genre, a powerful corrective to SO MANY previous films that repeated the same old false, stereotypical, and often tragic images of gay lives. Beyond merely telling some real truth, Carol has so much to say about strength, resilience, and the possibility of finding joy in difficult circumstances. As such, it was deeply satisfying to this viewer.

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61 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

"I miss you... I miss you..."

10/10
Author: mattiasflgrtll6 from Sweden
29 December 2015

Finally. FINALLY. This is the movie which completely overwhelmed my expectations and blew me away.

Romance is actually one of my favorite genres, but unfortunately it has let me down a lot more than once. Not the case with Carol. This has a strong possibility of being the best movie of 2015.

Therese is a woman working in a store who has an interest in trains and photography. But her hobbies is not enough to escape her boring and quite uneventful life. Carol has a wonderful daughter and is doing fine financially... but has an husband (whom she is trying to divorce) who won't leave her alone and makes her feel miserable.

These two people meet, and... they connect.

First off, the story itself is already incredibly captivating. It takes place during a time period where homosexuality was not only frowned upon, but there were even laws against it. So seeing the two of them facing struggles in order to keep in contact with each other is fascinating to behold. And it is because the love story is so damn beautiful. There is a lot of visual language. Eye contact and body language often speaks for itself. And it's excellently executed, as you sometimes know exactly how these two character are feeling without a single word spoken. And even the dialogue itself has subtlety to it. There are plenty of times where either Carol or Therese insinuate feelings by using seemingly casual sentences. "Your perfume... it smells good." is really just a synonym for "I want to kiss you". "Oh stop it, you look perfect!" can very well mean "I want to spend the rest of my life with you." The lines are not obvious giveaways and I love it. The audience gets to think for themselves.

But what really makes this movie work is the acting. It's absolutely

amazing. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are at their best ever. They make the characters so real, so human, that you wish they actually existed. Kyle Chandler also throws in a remarkable performance as the husband. You root for the two girls... but you don't hate Harge either. There is one scene where he has gone so far as to get himself to the house Carol and Therese is staying at for the weekend. And when he's told he can't have her, I was really feeling bad for the guy!

I can't remember the last time I have been as touched by a movie. It hit my heart just in the right places, and when I walked out of the theater I felt like I had just experienced someone else's life.

Okay, the trailer revealed too goddamn much from the movie, so several important plot details I already knew beforehand. But even that couldn't stop the perfectly orchestrated ocean of emotions it bathed me in. Carol will stick to your brain like glue after you've watched it. Oh and the movie too ;)

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89 out of 143 people found the following review useful:

One of the Most Overrated Films of the Year

5/10
Author: JaysonT from Chicago, IL
20 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had been looking forward to this film for months, and upon finally viewing it- it's a huge disappointment. Todd Haynes, who's finest achievement is still Far From Heaven (2002), has a knack for creating intimate atmospheres with radiant colors and backdrops. Like Far from Heaven, he succeeds with the aesthetic values of the 1950s by giving us refined art direction and beautiful costumes. Unlike Far from Heaven, we are given wooden characters and a predictable script, with a score by Carter Burwell that sounds exactly like Philip Glass's creation for The Hours (2002).

Rooney Mara works in a department store, and finds herself attracted to Cate Blanchett, a well to do married woman who flirts with her while shopping for Christmas presents. Later they have lunch, and in the only truly well acted scene in the film, seem to connect almost instantaneously. The dialogue here is cleverly limited- so we can instead watch the suggestive gestures of both characters that indicate sexual attraction- and tension. It's too bad this is the only scene I felt was able to capture this. The rest of the movie unfolds like a poorly written episode of the series Mad Men, as the women keep meeting up secretly whilst the husband gets suspicious and even hires a detective to follow them to a hotel so he can later gain custody of Blanchett's child. This is because homosexuality is "naughty".

Perhaps the reason I felt bored watching Carol was that the material is old and tired. Sexual repression in the 50s? We've seen this so many times. Brokeback Mountain (2005) also dealt with homosexuality with two men- and with much sharper direction and a more interesting story. The actors there were also more believable. Speaking of the acting, Cate Blanchett is indeed the standout. She's not nearly as strong as I had heard or hoped for, but she's none the less ravishing and breathtaking to gaze upon. She's at the peek of her career now, with 2 Oscars under her belt, and indeed Carol should easily earn her a deserved 7th nomination. But besides a juicy scene towards the end, the character isn't that intriguing. There's a lot to be desired, and that easily could be the fault of the screenwriter (Phyllis Nagy), who adapted the script. Yes I get it- it's supposed to be subtle, but this character felt empty. Blanchett is a fine actress- we could have gotten some more fire from her character.

Rooney Mara is even more flat. She relies simply on her pretty face. I kept thinking Natalie Portman would have exuded so much more energy with the role, since both women have similar physical dynamics to their facial structures. Mara just comes off weak. There's not an ounce of integrity or feeling coming through with this performance. If that's how she was supposed to play it, then the fault lies in the director. How she won at Cannes is beyond me. She's not impressive at all. She's pretty, but that doesn't constitute good acting.

The rest of the cast is easily forgettable. Sarah Paulson has a thankless role, and she's usually very good (watch her in 12 Years a Slave). Mara's boyfriend is the worst acting I've seen all year; very high school drama club. Everyone else is going through their lines in a robotic tone.

This could have been an exceptional film. And I'm in the minority who didn't like it (it's currently one of the top reviewed films of 2015, and destined to be crowned with nominations on Oscar morning). But it left me feeling cold, and bored. I might just be sick of seeing movies about the 1950s and how everyone couldn't "talk about things like being gay, and sex, and racial relations" back then. The subject has been hammered over my head too many times. But the trailer for this movie was a love letter. Why couldn't the movie be the same? Mara and Blanchett are supposed to be in love, and yet their first meeting aside- I never really felt a true connection between them. There was never enough juice in their chemistry for me to believe it.

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67 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

Engrossing

10/10
Author: (gsygsy) from london uk
9 November 2015

A perfect marriage of director and material, I can't think of anyone else but Todd Haynes for this story of love and desire blossoming in a desert of repression. Set in the era of the McCarthy witchhunts and the post-war obsession with - one might as well call it panic about- gender roles, CAROL is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. Playwright Phyllis Nagy's screenplay pays Highsmith the compliment of maintaining the psychological conflicts and complexities. In particular, the character of Carol's conventional husband, Harge (played by Kyle Chandler) could have, in lesser hands, received much shorter shrift than here.

Beautifully photographed, designed, edited, scored and acted, there's no reason to give it anything less than full marks. I was completely engrossed by it from start to finish.

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40 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

An Understated And Beautiful Story of Two

9/10
Author: Shane Breen from Ireland
22 December 2015

In 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman.

Director Todd Haynes has created a film of subtle and undeniable beauty. The set design is magnificent and builds a world that is uniquely 1950s, the costume design contributes greatly to the overall sense of time and place which can be hard to underscore in a period piece but the crew of Carol has manage to pull it off effortlessly. Todd Haynes direction is fluid and his camera lingers to capture the full emotional content of each scene. The score by Carter Burwell adds another layer of sincerity to this motion picture, and the cinematography by Edward Lachman vividly illustrates the elegance of the locations used.

The performances are outstanding, the relationship between Rooney Mara's "Therese Belivet" and Cate Blanchett's "Carol Aird" anchors the film. Rooney Mara plays "Therese" with an underlying sense of innocence that she herself knows more than anyone, she exclaims "I just say yes to everything", Mara's physical embodiment of her character is undeniable and everything you need to know about her motives can be found in a glance or a stare. Blanchett is terrific as "Carol" and there is a mysterious side to her character that begins to unveil as the narrative progresses, her particular predicament is a major source of pain in her life. Her relation with "Harge Aird" portrayed by Kyle Chandler highlights this, as he becomes deeply dissatisfied with her actions.

It's the sequences were Mara and Blanchett share the screen that define the brilliance of this film. There interactions are spellbinding from there first unusual interaction at "Therese's" department store to there affectionate conversations in "Carol's" car. To see how they progress is fascinating and the way in which Haynes frames them apart is superior direction. Its how we comprehend there relationship without cliché dialog, but mostly through facial expression that we get a sense of how they feel for each other.

The structure of the narrative itself was quite unexpected and I felt a major satisfaction as the film began to conclude. Its also perfectly paced with the exact amount of lingering to allow emotions to run wild. Its simplistic narrative tells a deeper more wholesome story about human connection and how it is viewed by society in the 1950's which strangely parallels today.

Overall, I found Carol to be quite beautiful, from its spectacular production and costume design, fluid direction, mesmerizing performances and incredible pacing this is a film where I personally relished on those lingering moments that detail the emotions of the characters. I am going to give Carol a 9.2/10.

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