“Carol” is a beautiful work of art. The acting is subtle, the script is simple, and the 1950’s culture comes alive in this period piece. It is a shoe-in for Oscar nominations in Production Design, Costumes, and probably Best Picture. But there is one scene that will overshadow all of the other elements. The writing of an adapted screenplay comes with a responsibility to stay true to the source material but less is often more in these sorts of scenes. The human imagination is powerful and some of the most intimate scenes in cinema history have been filmed through tasteful images that do not necessitate graphic nudity. There is a reason that “50 Shades of Gray” does not deserve a place in the Oscars. In an artsy film like this, I actually believe that it would have been more artistic to use the powerful musical score and creative cinematography to portray this scene. The score by Carter Burwell is sublime and pulls the subtle acting and time period together into a tapestry of emotion. Its minimalist quality is reminiscent of Philip Glass’s Oscar-nominated scoring of “The Hours.” The highlight of the film is Rooney Mara. She brings so much innocence to this role and has an amazing classical look. I would have never predicted that after seeing her in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," but that’s what makes her such a versatile actress. She is physically contrasted by Cate Blanchett, who brings an entirely different set of emotions to the film. The beautiful thing about this film is the self-discovery that these two characters experience together but in different ways. The acting is absolutely wonderful and the film's energy comes directly from the vivid portrayals of these characters. We spend most of the film waiting for something big to happen, only to realize that the “something big” is happening inside of Therese and Carol. This film needs to be approached like a painting. Rather than looking for something unexpected, you will experience the beauty of "Carol" through the growth of its characters and by absorbing the visually marvelous 1950's atmosphere.
[Pictured: Both Blanchett and Mara are completely timeless]