Not often do films receive a 10-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. But Carol is one of the most artistically brilliant works ever made. Cate Blanchett’s performance is astonishingly good—and yet Rooney Mara’s performance is somehow equally special. Their chemistry is mesmerizing; you can really feel the tension slowly build between their characters like electricity. But despite the likes of Blanchett (who became one of my favorite actors ever due to this film), Mara, Kyle Chandler, and Sarah Paulson, Carol is not a film that relies upon its ridiculously talented acting ensemble. It is simply just too consummate in its greatness. As far as I’m concerned, Carol is a virtually flawless work of art.
Let me start with the set and production design. With the story taking place in 1950s New York, Carol is like a time machine. Insofar as my extensive research says, it captures its setting so extremely well that it is almost indistinguishable from the actual 1950s Brooklyn era. The furniture, makeup, and hairstyling are perfect. The script is magical—while sticking to the setting’s vernacular endearingly—and the words come out of the characters’ mouths with a sense of timing and delicacy that shines. Edward Lachman’s cinematography is breathtaking, with every single shot proving to be marvelous in its own right. Todd Haynes’s directing is careful and focused. Carter Burwell’s original score and the soundtrack provide incredible music that compliments the film splendidly. And so on.
And let me add that this is the only romance film with which I’ve encountered such a profound experience. I’m usually not into romance on screen. But this is so artful. It is candid. It truly feels real. It’s also crazy that this is a lesbian love story unfolding between two heterosexual actors. It further testifies to their greatness. You can see the emotion every time they touch each other, even with a slight graze. You can feel the desire in the gazes they cast upon each other. It’s hard to stop admiring the convincing body language, expressions, and gestures. I love every aspect of Carol—from Blanchett and Mara’s acting to the subtle little things like the costume designing. I don’t often notice such things. But this monolith is unlike any other film. Carol transcends all expectations. To me, it is one of the greatest films of all time.