Based on the novel 'The Price of Salt' by Patricia Highsmith, the author of Talented Mr. Ripley and The Two Faces of January, Carol is set in 1950s New York and follows the story of Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), a department store clerk with dreams to be a photographer. One day, a woman named Carol (Cate Blanchett) arrives in her shop, inquiring about a gift for her daughter. This leads to a romance between the two of them, but it seems not everybody is happy with this affair. In particular, Carol's husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), who uses Carol's long string of affairs to try and gain full custody over their child.
The supporting cast can make things a bit convoluted, but it's this central story between Carol and Therese that really makes the movie. Their love draws you in and never lets you go. It's believable and honest, the actors making it as authentic as possible. Love stories can get rather forced from time to time, but occasionally a film comes along that just nails it. It's never forced. It's never corny. It never looks like the actors are uncomfortable. Carol is one of these movies, and I adored what it did.
Rooney Mara, for a long time now, has been a painfully underrated actress. She's an actress who deserves more recognition than she gets. Just watch her performance in David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and you'll understand what I'm talking about. I've been a fan of hers for a long time, every performance she gives is something special. Yes, even in Pan she gives arguably the second best performance in that entire movie, although that was rather easy to achieve since everyone overacted. Carol, in my opinion, is neither her best film, nor her best performance, but it still managed to blow me away. I fear she'll be overshadowed by Blanchett, but she deserves a lot of recognition as well.
To sum up, Carol is a tremendous achievement, combining together the talents of Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Todd Haynes into a film that most definitely deserves the award season buzz it's been getting for quite some time now. Prepare your heart. It's not emotionally ready for this film.