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Thursday, December 24, 2015

GeekRex Quick Take: Carol

The Buzz: Todd Haynes makes his directorial return to the big screen with Carol, his adaptation of the novel The Price of Salt. Haynes is acclaimed for features including Velvet Goldmine, I'm Not There, and Far From Heaven. On the heels of her recent Oscar win, Cate Blanchett is also garnering attention for her performance as an affluent homemaker struggling to reconcile her sexuality with a stifling 1950s attitude towards women. Blanchett is paired with a younger love interest in Rooney Mara, who is also receiving acclaim for her performance. In addition to the performances and directing, it's likely that the screenplay will nab awards nominations.

What's Great About the Movie: While she'll probably be relegated to the supporting category, the real lead of this film is arguably Mara. Therese (Mara) plays out a somewhat overused stereotype of the aimless 20-something trying to figure out who she is and what she wants. But setting her character against the repressive 50s backdrop makes for a refreshing twist on the typically modern tale. The film also looks gorgeous, and Haynes' usual DP, Edward Lachman, brings the grounded-yet-ethereal glow to the film that he's brought on Haynes' previous work. 

What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: Part of the problem may lie in the buzz itself, but it's hard not to feel like this movie is a bit of an actors' showcase and lacks the depth in character you'd expect from a film that follows two protagonists so closely. The chemistry between Mara and Blanchett isn't as intense as the film needs it to be, and the two are on completely different wavelengths in regards to performance - Mara plays her role small and subtle, while Blanchett channels a more exaggerated Old Hollywood. The result is two puzzle pieces that don't quite fit together, and a movie that, while decent, will probably not stick with the viewer once the Oscar hype fades.

Final Verdict: Frankly, Haynes told a story that was very similar to this earlier in his career with Far From Heaven and did it better back then. Mara and Blanchett both deliver solid performances, but never on the same page, making this a film that doesn't leave a strong impression after the credits roll.  

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