<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Todd Haynes. Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith
Running Time: 1 hour 58 minutes
Don’t believe the critics ratings on this one guys. It’s a dull story that’s been told a million times done in a slow, pedantic and dreary way. Although beautifully shot, its utter dreariness will have you staring at your shoes and shifting in your seat.
Carol (Cate Blanchett) is estranged from her rich husband Harge Aird (what a weird name!) played by Kyle Chandler who is listed in the opening credits as ‘And Kyle Chandler’ for some strange reason. The reason for this estrangement becomes quickly but subtly clear: Carol is more interested in women. Her ex flame Abby (Sarah Paulson) is her confidante now as Carol takes a fancy to a toy store salesgirl called Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara). A languorous courtship follows that though very pretty and endearing seems to take forever to culminate into some decent lesbian sex. And when it does, the Indian Censor Board, in its infinite stupidity, cuts out all the sex, which renders everything meaningless since there’s not much by way of physical intimacy between the two through the film.
But Carol must tread carefully since her husband knows of her ‘immoral ways’ and seeks to have sole custody of their daughter Rindy (wow, who thought of these names!). But that drama barely plays out giving way to more snore-inducing moments that try and make us believe in this ‘romance’ that actually when you think of it, seems more like a short-term dalliance for Carol and a first time crush for Therese.
Sure Cate Blanchett is her usual wonderful self, if a bit monotonous. Rooney Mara actually steals the show with her naïve face and innocent curiosity.
Carol has the elements to make it seem like a delightful film but it’s actually a very common story with little drama or liveliness to make it touching or intense. Of course the critics will dote on it since it has Cate Blanchett, but if you’re feeling a bit somnolent, I’d avoid this substitute for a sleeping pill.
PS: There’s just one scene in the whole film that moved me and made me think: the one where Carol is trying to woo Therese back in the restaurant and as she leaves she puts her hand on Therese’s shoulder. A minute later a guy friend does the same thing to Therese but her reactions to both are telling and insightful.