The 1950’s New York City of Todd Haynes’ Carol (B+) is gorgeous to behold. A stardust fantasy inked in pinks, draped in lavender and spiced with holiday peppermint sticks, it is also home to a burgeoning forbidden romance between an unhappy housewife played by Cate Blanchett and a timid shopkeeper played by Rooney Mara. Haynes films key sequences of this slow-burn drama via raindrop covered glass panes, through architectural lines that separate characters from one another and in front of mirrors that reflect tender love blossoming amidst the suffocating funhouse of a society in transition. The lead actresses are note-perfect in their commitment to characters and provide a fascinating portal into the sometimes too formalist unfolding of the proceedings. Haynes may be the ideal director for this austere work, skilled at keeping his heroines and the audience at safe distance from their surroundings and capturing the longing of outsider protagonists hoisted in space and time to alien earthly environments. If folks are left wanting a bit more, well, that’s sort of the point.
Here’s a clip to see the splendid art direction and these two master actresses in action: