Joe Zappulla’s review published on Letterboxd:
Carol effortlessly takes you back to the spellbinding wintery 1950s New York City through its impeccable costume and production design, but also takes you someplace completely different, to a timeless place of joy and love which flows from every grain of film the beautiful dreamlike cinematography. Together this is a cinematic symphony of bliss, the closest I'll ever come to truly falling in love.
Carol tells the story of the relationship between two women, an upperclass house wife and a department store clerk, through quick glances and eye contact. It's not an unusual story, but it doesn't need to be. Every single detail in their body language, in the way the speak, adds to their relationship in one way or another. It's the best iteration of this love story I've ever seen. Everything blends perfectly to create an indescribable product of surreal escapism and yet clear realism. It's a defined space and time with incredibly human characters with the most realistic little characteristics to the way they carry themselves, but yet it feels like a hazy flight of fancy, a daydream you'd have to yourself as you doze off and think of the one you love.
The realism is to be credited to Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara who not only give the best performances of the year, but some of the best I can ever think of ever. While they may have some show stealing scenes and performances, what truly makes their performances is the subtle in their interactions. How they each react when they touch each other, even if its for only a second, where their eyes go to as they brush up against each other. It's all so delectable and amazing to watch. They become their characters and embody all of their wants and desires.
The beautiful dream that the film takes you into is to be credited to the cinematography. Edward Lachman perfectly utilizes 16mm to take us back to the 50s, but it also takes us to this celluloid dreamscape of passion. Focus is racked in an out as we drift through the story of these two women. We see hazy frames of frosted and fogged windows as our characters look out through them and dream and wonder. We see them through their grainy, beautiful dreams, through the marvelous shots of the camera.
Both are these are united by Carter Burwell's moving score. It's just beautiful, as soft and tender but as powerful as the film as a whole. I haven't stopped listening to it on Spotify.
And for doing all of this, for putting all of these incredible aspects together, and with some of the best direction I have ever seen, Todd Haynes makes what would be a charming love story into one of the greatest love stories ever told and one of the greatest films of not only the year, but I'd argue of all time. It's everything I love about film, that it can take you to other eras, but also different dimensions and worlds that you would think only exist in dreams. Carol does both, and I am so thankful that it is real.
Carol debuts at my #1 (duh) on my 2015 Ranked List