Carol (2015) Film Review

Keeva Stratton

Film Expert

By Keeva Stratton

Based on the 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt (considered so controversial for its time it was published under the pseudonym ‘Claire Morgan’), Carol is the story of a lesbian love affair, unconventional and scandalous for its era, which has heartbreaking consequences.

It’s 1952, and Therese (Rooney Mara)—a young, up and coming photographer—is getting by working in the toy department of an upscale New York department store. It’s almost Christmas, she is bored, and equally uninterested in her sales role as she is in her current fading romance.


When the sophisticated socialite Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) calls on Therese to help Carol select a gift for her young daughter, Therese is entranced. Unlike the less than convincing affections she has for her partner, Richard (Jake Lacy), Therese is undeniably drawn to Carol.

Carol has a polished veneer of elegance and sophistication about her, but despite this aura, the typically awkward Therese feels entirely at home in her presence.

Carol too takes a liking for Therese, and with her soon to be ex-husband struggling to let her go, she decides to take off on a road trip. Therese agrees to join her, and she and Carol head west. During their journey their relationship blossoms, but trouble is never far behind.

Therese soon finds herself swept up in a bitter divorce battle. Social perceptions of affairs between women in 1950s America have dire consequences for Carol, whose growing affections for Therese, and past liaisons, threaten her ability to have contact with her young daughter.

What results is equally tragic and beautiful, highlighting the terrible consequences of societal rejection and stigma.

Carol is sublime. Where the novel—a child of its time—had to be discreet and a little subtle, the film, as presented to the current generation, can be wonderfully explicit as to the depths of the romance and the tragedy of this intense love.

The performances of Blanchett and Mara (as well as some of the smaller roles, like Sarah Paulson’s Abby) are deserving of their award season buzz. This generation of filmgoers is truly spoilt by the immeasurable talent of Cate Blanchett. She continues to deliver performances that stay with you long after the credits roll. In Carol, she is deliberate and damaged, scared and self-assured. She is as real as a character can be, and the power of her portrayal will hopefully convince even the most conservative viewer that difference is human.

Even if the book didn’t stir your emotions, the film no doubt will. Director Todd Haynes has elevated the material thanks to the freedoms afforded him by generational context; and it’s wonderfully done.


Directed by: Todd Haynes

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson

Runtime: 1hour 58mins

Rating: CTC

Release date: 14 January

Reviewer Rating: 4/5


Starring Australia’s CATE BLANCHETT, the film was recently nominated for FIVE Golden Globe Awards – including:

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama – CATE BLANCHETT
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama – ROONEY MARA
  • Best Director – Motion Picture – TODD HAYNES
  • Best Original Score – Motion Picture – CARTER BURWELL

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