Carol ★★★★

Coming to this picture relatively 'blind' - I knew it was well reviewed but I hadn't read any of them - I naively imagined that Todd Haynes would reprise the lush Sirkian 'look' he had created for the earlier Far From Heaven, another foray into '50's-set melodrama territory.

However, this is tonally a much different beast: an autumnal/wintry atmosphere is created in a muted colour palette - drab greens to the fore - and Elmer Bernstein's lush score for the previous film is replaced by one more subdued but no less effective.

The performances of the two leads gel favourably: I've always found Cate Blanchett to be quite a 'mannered' actress (I'm thinking of her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator in particular) but that particular approach is appropriate for her character here, that of an older woman who is drawn into a slow-burning affair with a sales assistant.

Despite Cate's old-fashioned 'star' status, this is really Rooney Mara's film: her character evolves the most from confused girl to grown woman during the running time and the sensitivity she brings to the role is a personal triumph.

A beautiful film..