Carol [Moonlight Cinema, Brisbane]

A beautifully directed love story by Todd Haynes that was superbly crafted and extremely well acted by two talented actresses. However, despite all its beauty and excellence there was within its core a distinct lack of emotional chemistry between the two leads/characters that, if present, would have elevated this film to almost perfection (and Oscar front-runner).

This was a very typical Haynes period film - highly reminiscent of his succinctly masterful Julianne Moore starrer Far From Away (even the soundtrack sounds similar) and the brilliant Kate Winslet/Eva Rachel Wood mini-series Mildred Pierce. Haynes definitely has an eye for the period and his attention to details were impeccable. The sets and scenes were lush with details, as were the costumes and make-up. Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara looked convincingly liked they were from the 50s.

The story itself was beautiful, but I suspect something was amiss in the translation from print to screen. There was without a doubt that both actresses were superb and turning in fine performance; Blanchett was nuanced and finely tuned whereas Mara was more raw and exposed. However, their romance itself was less convincing. Objectively, and intellectually, I can imagine why they would fall in love, but emotionally, that was not translated keenly on screen. Individually, their feelings of longing, heartbreak, despair and lovelorn were keenly felt and explored, but when they are together, the sparks just seemed to crackle and sputter instead of burning up in a blinding blaze.

As aforesaid, individually both Blanchett and Mara gave very strong performances and it is very likely they will both get nominated during Oscar time (and Mara really does deserve a Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress, although her chances of winning seemed to be higher with the latter). However, Mara really felt more authentic as the naivete girl falling in love for the first time, rather than Blanchett as the more experienced lover trapped by society to conform while desperate to be really in love.

The craft throughout this film was beautiful and on point. Cinematographer Edward Lachman did a great job in lensing the period and Carter Burwell created a lovely score that really carried a scene and emphasised the emotions.

Haynes has given us yet another beautiful (atypical) love story but this time it lacked the intense chemistry that differentiates it from his earlier works. 


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