Grade A

Set in NYC in the 1950s, “Carol” is a story of a forbidden love affair between two women.  Cate Blanchett plays the title role, a woman in a failed marriage and in the process of getting a divorce.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  Rooney Mara is a young woman who is not sure of anything; but when she meets Blanchett in the department store that Mara works in, Mara is immediately attracted to her.  Blanchett shares the sentiment, and the two women start a slow, subtle romance that will lead to what most of us look for: love.

Caught in the middle of this affair is Blanchett’s husband, played by Kyle Chandler.  Still in love with his soon to be ex-wife, he will do anything to keep Blanchett from leaving him, including threatening her with the possibility of never seeing their daughter again.  Blanchett may have to choose between the woman she loves or her daughter.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Carol” is the scene when Blanchett, realizing that she and Mara have been followed and spied on, barges into the motel room next to theirs and sees all the surveillance equipment and recording devices that the private investigator had set up.  He had listened to and taped the women making love last night!   Blanchett draws a revolver, points it at the p.i., and demands he hand over the tapes to her.

Cate Blanchett’s acting in “Carol” is outstanding, almost regal, helping to elevate the movie to such high levels that it received several Oscar nominations.  But this movie is just as much about Mara’s wide-eyed, innocent character, whom she plays exceptionally well.   Although this is a love story, the audience will feel an undercurrent of fear for these women as they live in times that was highly intolerant of anything and anyone who went against the norm.

— M