Leave Your Lover: Carol review

This movie is in limited release at the moment, so my grandparents and I made a trip to see it at the Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. Lots of gay couples, young and old turned out. Naturally, Carol was completely sold out until the 2:30 showing.

As I predicted in my last post, this movie destroyed me. I didn’t cry so much as continuously weep through the whole thing. This happens a lot.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt, it’s about Therese (Rooney Mara), a love struck shop clerk who begins an affair with Carol (Cate Blanchett), a wealthy housewife in the process of a divorce. This being 1950s New York, their relationship becomes an issue in Carol’s custody battle for her daughter. It’s kind of amazing, then, that this movie has come out months after the legalization of gay marriage in the US.

Unlike the book, which is told entirely from Therese’s perspective, we see more into Carol’s heartbreaking family situation. Therese, on the other hand, is a mystery. Mara has few lines in the movie, so most of her performance boils under the surface. The few times she lifts the curtain, it’s incredible. It says a lot when an actor can hold their own next to Blanchett, who was perfectly cast as Carol.

Part of what made the novel so ahead of its time was Highsmith’s refusal to punish her characters for being gay. Yes, they faced obstacles because of their time, but neither character has a guilt complex about it. As a result, the movie is just as refreshing. In an interview, screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy (who was a close friend of Highsmith’s), told naysayers, “Have you ever had a breakdown about being straight?”

Carol got five Golden Globe noms last week, with Mara and Blanchett facing off in the Best Actress category. As much as I love Mara, it’ll be a tight race not only against Blanchett, but also Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander (her maybe Dragon Tattoo replacement) and Saoirse Ronan. I’m betting on Vikander. On the bright side, Mara and Blanchett will definitely bring the fashion porn. If not sexual tension.

Photo: The Weinstein Co.

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