The Film (5/5)
Carol is the latest film from the director Todd Haynes following on from his 2007 Bob Dylan inspired "I'm Not There". Carol is an adaptation of the 1952 book by Patricia Highsmith "The Price of Salt", written by Highsmith under a pseudonym at the time of publication to shield herself from any controversy the novel might cause. In the early 90's she admitted it was her own, had it published under her name, and changed the title to Carol after the subject of the piece. The book is considered a classic in literary LGBT circles, and an adaptation has been in the works since the mid-1990's.
Carol tells the story of 2 women Carol Aird, a woman going through a trying and painful divorce with her rich husband Harge. Carol is a lesbian living in the early 1950's and her lifestyle is not yet accepted in the public conscious, and thus she is struggling to leave her ego-bruised husband, and get some sort of custody of their daughter Rindy. Into this comes shopgirl and aspiring photographer Therese Belivets. They meet when Carol surfaces at the toy counter Therese is working at to acquire a specific doll for her daughter's Christmas present. When it becomes obvious that it is sold out, Therese recommends an elaborate train set, which Carol purchases for Rindy’s Christmas present. After Carol departs Therese finds Carol’s black gloves, and uses the address on file for her credit card to mail them back. This minor correspondence begins a relationship that will take them halfway across the country, and change their lives.
Carol is Haynes operating in top form. The visuals of the film are stunning from the set design to the exquisite lighting that Haynes and cinematographer Edward Lachmann use to bring warmth to this very cold, detached, and lonely world. The performances are excellent all around, with Blanchett and Mara seemingly dwelling in their characters fully for these performances, though it could be said Blanchett does utilize the dramatic aspects of Carol in a much more notable way.
Carol tends to takes a cold distant look at the characters, and the world they are in. This has been described as a negative attribute of the film, and yet I found it an important element of the film that allows the viewer to fully explore the characters and motivations as the performers are given almost a theatrical distance to go into their characters and bring them out. This goes for main characters like Carol, Therese, and Harge, and smaller background characters as well.
Carol is presented in its original 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded aspect ratio. It should be no shock to viewers that the film looks stunning in it's Blu-ray debut. The film was shot by Haynes using 16mm film, and it looks absolutely both natural, colorful, and stunning. Colors absolutely pop here, detail is excellent throughout, and there is a natural, but non-obtrusive grain structure at play here. I did not detect any issues with the transfer itself.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track is quite solid with dialogue, and score coming through quite nicely.
It seems that for a film that has been decades in the making their could have been more in the way of extras. However, we are limited to a Q & A with the filmmakers and a behind the scenes gallery.
Todd Haynes has come back in a big way with Carol. The film is visually stunning, and loaded with powerful performances. I found the film endlessly hypnotic and at times suspenseful crossing tight drama, a dual character study, and a film noir vibe into one package. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic though extras are limited. The film is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, I mean seriously see this film, it is easily one of my favorites of 2015. The Blu-ray is only recommended, that is not for the transfer, but for the lack of extras. Can we get Criterion on this?