Carol ★★★★★

- first time I've ever watched Cate Blanchett as a lead in a film and she's amazingggg

- Rooney Mara is a queen

- When Richard showed up, I internally screamed "Plop!" (only fans of The Office will understand) 

- the soundtrack and cinematography are so beautiful


- how did cmbyn get nominated for best picture but carol didn't?!?!

Carol is hands-down one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. It is not only cinematically aestethic, but also narratively graceful in its approach to the genre of period romance. 

Set in the early 1950s, the film follows Carol Aird, a wealthy middle-aged socialite played by Cate Blanchett. She leaves behind her gloves at the department store Therese Belivet, a young aspiring photographer played by Rooney Mara, works at while buying a train set for her daughter. From the moment Therese decides to return the gloves to Carol, the film blooms into its full capacity.

Director Todd Haynes portrays the story poetically, resulting in several visually stunning scenes. The slow pans and long takes allows the audience to focus on the performances and all the subtle nuances of each character. However, this does not take away from Haynes' direction. His collaboration with cinematographer Ed Lachman leads to several beautifully framed shots, using several visual motifs to add to the story. The most notable motif being the constant separation between Carol and Therese through windows, smoke and doors. One particular sequence of Carol and Therese driving is gracefully edited, creating an atmosphere of discovery and newfound experiences, one of the gradual process of falling in love. 

But it's ultimately the performances of Blanchett and Mara, two of the best working actresses today, that make Carol such a joy to watch.  Blanchett brings her titular character to life; with help from the editing and screenplay, she brilliantly exhibits the mysterious allure of Carol without compromising any screen presence. The most fascinating thing about Blanchett's performance is her poignant ability to express development throughout the story. Carol is almost larger-than-life, her affluent lifestyle put on full display through Sandy Powell's great costume design. Without an actress of Blanchett's experience and visceral ability to humanize those she portrays, Carol may have solely been an object of desire instead of a woman struggling between her duty as a loving mother and her overwhelming feelings for Therese, her future. 

Opposite of Blanchett is Mara, who balances the extravagance of Carol with her own moving portrayal of Therese. Underneath the wraps of a burgeoning romance is a coming-of-age story. In the beginning of the film, Therese is in a relationship with a man and working at a department store. At the end of the film, she works at the New York Times as a photographer and ultimately chooses to pursue a relationship with Carol. Hiding just beneath the surface of these tangible changes is Mara's paradoxical ability to charge subtle moments with such power and emotion. Not being dwarfed by Blanchett's confidence and charisma as Carol is a feat in itself, but Mara delivers an equally brilliant performance, one that does not hinge on the words spoken, but rather those unspoken.

I've probably used the word 'beautiful' 500 times by now, but it's for good reason. There is no better word to describe the film, Carol, than an absolutely beautiful and immersive exploration of the most universal quality of all: love.

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