Taking the form of an extended flashback, Todd Haynes’ (Far from Heaven, I’m Not There) exquisite film depicts the burgeoning relationship formed by upper-middle-class socialite Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara), a sales assistant at a department store. Behind her glamorous façade Carol’s emotional state is precarious – with her marriage on the rocks, she is facing a nasty custody battle for her daughter, all of which informs her advances towards the much younger Therese.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, Carol is a sensuous, erotic film suffused with intoxicating design and period detail. Haynes’ approach is richly allusive – the poignant dinner scene, with which the film begins, for example, explicitly references Brief Encounter (reissued in the IFI this November ) and one is left with the impression of a film that will immeasurably repay repeat viewings. (Notes by David O’Mahony.)
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