>>> Carol

CAROL (Todd Haynes). 119 minutes. Opens Friday (December 11). See listings. Rating: NNNN

Todd Haynes subverts just about every element of the 50s lesbian narrative in this gorgeous Cannes-approved romance.

Wealthy suburban housewife and devoted mother Carol (Cate Blanchett) meets much younger department store clerk and aspiring photographer Therese (Rooney Mara) while Christmas shopping in New York City and is immediately drawn to her. When she invites Therese to her home, her guest witnesses Carol’s argument with husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), which deepens the connection between the two women. Soon – actually, it takes half the movie, which is the only thing typical of 50s romance here – they’re having a full-on affair.

But, for social and personal reasons, it’s not so easy to sustain. Haynes navigates this territory subtly – note the moment Carol appears in pants – aided by superb art direction and a script that gives both characters room to grow.

Blanchett does deep conflict wonderfully, but it’s Mara, with the stronger emotional arc, who’s the surprise here. 

Not for lesbians only.

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