Carol (Cate Blanchett) and her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) have a fantastically vulgar amount of money and are getting a divorce the way well-heeled ladies and gentlemen did in the 1950s: They drink martinis in dinner clothes while playing with their young daughter in a marvelous big house with servants. There's just one tiny fly in the ointment and that's that Carol digs the ladies which is ruining the couple's polite, blue-blooded détente.
Todd Haynes (FAR FROM HEAVEN) directed this remarkably beautiful movie which might seem almost quaint by today's standards but would have been un-releasable to a wide audience just twenty years ago. Like Far From Heaven, this film depicts a time when homosexuality was presented onscreen as a lurid addiction to be reconciled and it's almost as successful as the previous film except for one odd flaw.
Carol is a striking, dynamic woman played to the hilt by Cate Blanchett who can use her Faye Dunaway-like cheekbones like biceps to put over an emotion. This, in fact, is my favorite performance by an actress this year--another home run for Cate. But, for the life of me, I can't figure out why Carol would be the least bit interested in "Therese" (Rooney Mara) for more than an afternoon much less risk everything she holds dear to be near her. Rooney plays Therese like a mousy version of Audrey Hepburn in 1952. I could have used less mouse and more Hepburn in order for this whole film to be perfect, it's not, hence the flaw I spoke of earlier. It doesn't add-up.
This is a very, very carefully drawn picture which is why the one poor brushstroke sticks out so obviously. Now, I gotta be honest, I'm not a fan of Ms. Mara to begin with and I think she's a cold screen personality. I think she's a big reason why Dragon Tattoo failed, and I wasn't fond of her contribution here either. But the rest of the movie is resplendent enough for me to recommend highly. It's still an inspired effort. The visual artistry alone is worth catching.
Also onboard is the current go-to-gal for sinister lesbians in film and television, Sarah Paulson, looking harsh/lovely in butch tweed. And I have to wonder: Why does no one wanna stay married to Kyle Chandler in movies? He's adorable.
Serious moviegoers don't want to miss this.
(Loudinni specializes in movie reviews, 500 words or less.)