Snowy New York in the 1950s with gingerbread cookies, employees wearing Santa hats and “Silver Bells” playing peacefully in the background. Following a classic Christmas movie plot-line of the handsome man entering the shop and falling in love with the clerk girl, Cate Blanchett walks in and approaches the counter where Rooney Mara stands…
Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol is a drama that sets in the 1950s. It is a period film that traces the patterns of the director Todd Haynes’ extraordinary works such as Brief Encounter, Brokeback Mountain and Far From Heaven, recreating the look and the sound of the past. The film explores themes about love, identity, friendship, sexuality and marriage while keeping its originality. It is based on Patricia Highsmith’s original novel The Price of Salt, published under the pseudonym of Claire Morgan, and adapted to the big screen by screenwriter Phyllis Nagy. The book represents an important idea not only because it deals with homosexuality, but also because it is one of the few books of the 1950s that does not contain suicides and “cures” in same-sex relationships. The reason why the author chose a pseudonym for herself is the necessity of this period.
Cate Blanchett plays the unhappy, soon to be divorcee Carol, who falls in love with the store clerk Therese the moment she sees her. Therese, who sells Carol a toy train as a Christmas present for her daughter, is played by Rooney Mara. It’s an unreasonable gift for a girl in the 50s, of course, but the thing is that since the gift is large, it needs to be delivered, so Carol gives Therese her address and leaves the store, purposely forgetting her gloves on the counter.
Blanchett’s elegance in her performance matches the character’s fear and self-doubt. She has a fierce yet calm aura. Rooney Mara, on the other hand, is chatty and has the watchful eye of a photographer. She frames her fringed face with pompom berets. The passion between them is naturally visible as Carol constantly touches her face and strokes her hair while talking to Therese. Blanchett and Mara’s characters continue to be drawn to each other throughout the film, even though they foresee the consequences of a serious relationship that could develop between them.
The film is the story of a rejected and forbidden love. It is about a woman’s search for her own path while facing social prejudices and bigotry that force her to make a difficult choice. These two women, who are significantly different both in terms of their social class and age, experience love in the film’s beautifully haunting Christmas-themed cinematography.
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