A lustrous, deeply felt love story set against the backdrop of societal oppression in the early 1950s, "Carol" is the stirring unofficial companion piece of 2002's aching, dreamily autumnal, Technicolor-rich "Far from Heaven," both films from director Todd Haynes delving into the intolerant, prejudicial landscapes of the era in which they are set. Modeling these features in ways both aesthetic and thematic after key works from filmmaker Douglas Sirk (most notably 1955's "All That Heaven Allows"), Haynes is so adept at capturing this period and milieu it is as if he has transported his cast back in time. Adapted by first-time feature screenwriter Phyllis Nagy from Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel "The Price of Salt," "Carol" is cinema for the senses, touching one synchronously on visual, auditory, textural and emotional planes. At the center: two spectacularly nuanced performances from Cate Blanchett (2015's "Cinderella") and an arguably never-better Rooney Mara (2015's "Pan").
Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is an unenthused shopgirl working the toy counter at upscale Manhattan department store Frankenberg's. Through the haze of holiday shoppers walks Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), an older, glamorous, fur-coated vision looking for a Christmas gift for young daughter Rindy (Sadie Heim, Kk Heim). They share a moment together loaded with far more unspoken pretense than anyone around them—or even Therese herself—understands, and then Carol is off again into the sea of consumers. She has left behind her gloves, however, and Therese is surprised when, upon contacting her customer to return them, Carol invites her out for a thank-you drink. In the midst of a rocky divorce from Harge (Kyle Chandler), Carol makes it known that she is interested in her new friend and would like to spend more time with her. Therese, who is going through the motions with sort-of boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy), is confused by her new attraction, but also drawn to it. During a time when same-sex relationships were widely viewed as taboo, even immoral, the purity of their feelings for each other are impossible to deny.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review