Carol: What You Need to Know
It wowed critics and audiences and now director Todd Haynes’ intense romantic drama Carol is come to DVD. An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s influential 1952 novel The Price of Salt, it offers contemporary audiences a glimpse into the rigid mores of a not-so-distant era from a woman’s point of view. As the film comes to DVD and Blu-ray (you can pre-order it on the right-hand side of the page), we offer a primer on what to expect.
What's the plot?
Two very different women – Therese, an aspiring 20-something photographer working as a store clerk and Carol, a rich, sophisticated, unhappy married woman in her 30s – meet and slowly but irrevocably fall in love. Carol’s loveless marriage is one obstacle. Worse, her bitter husband is threatening to take away her daughter, a tactic the homophobic judicial system of the 1950s seems happy to oblige. For Carol, the choice must be made between her child and her lover while Therese must come to terms with life as a lesbian.
Who's in it?
Cate Blanchett as Carol and Rooney Mara as Therese lead, with Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith offering strong support. Sharp-eyed music fans will also spot Sleater-Kinney member Carrie Brownstein in a small but provocative role.
Does it deliver?
The New York Film Critics Circle certainly thinks so: the group last week named Carol its best picture of 2015. It also gave the nod for best director, screenplay and cinematography. Highsmith’s novel has been a high-water mark of lesbian-themed fiction for a generation. Yet director Haynes (see also 1995’s Safe, 2002’s Far from Heaven, 2007’s I'm Not There among others) deftly manages to preserve the book’s upbeat ending without watering down any of its drama. Blanchett is reliably watchable as the wrapped-in-fur and perennially smoking central character. Mara – channelling Audrey Hepburn – is also terrific.