Carol (in 35mm)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Some things are a given when you see a Todd ‘Far From Heaven’ Haynes film: lush cinematography; gorgeous production and costume designs; a haunting soundtrack, not to mention a very distinguished style of directing as if we’ve never left the golden age of 50s Hollywood moviemaking. A Very Lesbian Christmas Carol is a simple, elegantly scripted story and even stretched out over 2 hours, it never drags. Much of that is down to the cast’s brilliant performances. Cate Blanchett’s icy beauty is used to great effect in her portrayal of a strong confident woman born before her times. Initially coming across as slightly creepy and almost predatory, her confidence or the pretence of that confidence comes crashing down only (and only briefly) in the final scene at the lawyers’ office when she finds herself painted into a corner. Blanchett’s performance was perfectly nuanced, making you understand and feel her character’s every internal conflict and desires. However, I feel this is more Rooney Mara’s film as her character has the more interesting dramatic arc, and matching Blanchett scene for scene, Mara’s Therese blossoms on screen both sexually and intellectually. So was it the hype that has inflated expectations or is it something else that makes the film less than amazing? I remembered fondly the unexpected joys and richness of Far From Heaven moved me more and I was more impressed with the complexity in Blanchett’s character in Blue Jasmine. Maybe the point is that at this stage of their careers, both Blanchett and Haynes has acquired so much acclaim and accolades, it is harder for them to surprise us anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film but I didn’t love it, even though I was mesmerized for over 2hours. I just wish…

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