Review: Carol

28 Mar 16

Give it a chance to do it's work...

For the longest time my experience of Carol was less immersion and more admiration at the craft that had gone into fashioning such a beautiful object. The evocation of another world is faultless, from the wood-panelled department stores to the smokey upstairs parties which are veritably begging for the impending arrival of rock'n roll. Cinematography, set design, the beautiful lead performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara - the whole shebang is virtually edible, but although I was enjoying looking at it, I just wasn’t feeling it.

It worked away at me though. Late in the piece there’s a key scene (the one with Carol, her husband and their two lawyers) where, all of a sudden, I fell for Carol - both the character and the movie. From that point on director Todd Haynes, Blanchett, Mara et al had me in the palms of their hands. The final sequence is nigh-on-perfect as Haynes abandons the almost-geometric compositions of much of the preceding two hours - restrictive frames and constricting space - and goes all hand-held, placing us with the characters as he leads us to what is hands-down my favourite final shot of the year. To say it had managed to win me over by the end is a massive understatement.

If you watch it (and you should) don’t mistake Carol’s refreshing lack of sentimentality for chilliness or distance - this is heartfelt, passionate stuff delivered with genuine class. It scarcely needs any more praise, but for what it’s worth this is easily one of the year’s best films.