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Carol - Film Review

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Published January 15th 2016
A Spellbinding Cameo

Seeing "Hateful Eight" and "Carol" within 24 hours is disconcerting – but one clear result is to realise that masterpieces can come in very different forms.

"Carol" is a series of exquisite cameos.

Cate Blanchett is wonderful in her role. From the moment we meet her, she exudes beauty and wealth. Less is more in her performance, as she can communicate powerful emotion in a single understated sentence, or a slow forming smile.

This is a woman who is used to getting what she wants, and who tends to go with her flow, rather than calculating her moves. She is locked into a wealthy marriage of convenience, to a husband who is both besotted and frustrated by her, in an era of the fifties where same sex relationships are referred to, if at all, in euphemisms, and seen as, at best, psychological aberrations requiring treatment.

We meet Rooney Mara in a department store, where Blanchett's "forgotten" gloves provide the mechanism for them to meet again, and to begin a nuanced, delicate dance towards a forbidden relationship.

Both Cate and Rooney are beautifully dressed to enhance Cate's patrician beauty and Rooney's elphin charm. The camera loves both. Haunting delicate music enhances the delicate progression of the relationship, and enables one of the strengths of the movie – long silences between Cate and Rooney.

It is their fluid, emerging relationship which is the centre of the film.

It captures the privileged, contrained "poisonous beauty" of the time. A time when Patricia Highsmith felt that she needed to publish her novel (The Price of Salt) about same sex romance under a pseudonym lest she ruin her career. For that was how it then was.

The film is paced superbly.

Outcomes may be predictable, but they are also completely credible.

And the themes of new love and loss, fractured marriages and child custody, social expectations and legal grandstanding, selfishness and sacrifice are observed meticulously and sensitively.

While, unlike "Hateful Eight", the makers of Carol are being coy about their hopes for Oscars, this reviewer would be disappointed were it not to receive several nominations.

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Why? Beautiful, sensitive,evocative
Where: Cinemas across Australia
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