When Todd Haynes makes a film, you need to pay attention. While the director has only made about seven films (if you include the “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” which is 43 minutes, but still essential) and one HBO’s miniseries (“Mildred Pierce”), the filmmaker’s punk rock/queer core and Douglas Sirk-ian sensibilities have evolved over the years, and now he is one of the great voices in modern American cinema. In recent years, perhaps picking up where he left off with “Far From Heaven,” Haynes has turned towards an exquisite delicacy of both form and emotion: subtle and intimate, but wonderfully expressive dramatic works that can leave you devastated.
The word from Cannes earlier this year is that Haynes slam dunked this controlled and captivating form with his latest drama, “Carol.” Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the film is an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. While Highsmith is known for terrifically tense and taut crime and duplicity stories, many of which have been made into movies (Wim Wenders’s “The American Friend” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” among others), “Carol,” centers on a a wealthy suburban wife and mother and an aspiring photographer who meet by chance, fall in love almost at first sight, and defy the closet of the early 1950s. The movie also co-stars Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith. Here’s the official synopsis:
In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.
So far “Carol” is only confirmed for a New York Film Festival slot with the North American premiere in question, but it’s pretty clear, as a big potential awards contender—Rooney Mara already won the Best Actress Prize at Cannes—it’s very likely to turn up at both Telluride and the Toronto International Film Festival. Originally scheduled for December 18th (up against “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), “Carol” now opens on November 18th in limited release via The Weinstein Company. The film will also screen at the BFI London Film Festival in October where it make its UK Premiere