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Carol: The woman in a fur coat

Unexpected love story:Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt , Carol is about an aspiring photographer’s unlikely romance with an older, married (about to be divorced) and rich suburban woman.  

Flung out of space: that is how Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) describes the odd and oddly-named Therese Belevet (Rooney Mara) on their first ‘date’.

And that seems like the perfect phrase to sum up the hard-to-read Therese, a girl presumably in her twenties who always finds herself a little out of place when she is in the company of people. But with Carol she seems to have an instant connection. She is still as quiet.

But they seem to speak without saying much, ever since their eyes first meet in a toyshop where Therese works. Therese suggests something for Carol’s daughter’s Christmas present. She takes down her address because the gift has to be couriered to the neighbouring state. Carol forgets her gloves: or does she leave them behind? And Therese, like a dedicated lover about to make her first move decides to return them. She calls her up, they meet. It’s not a date per se, but two humans who have hardly met and clearly can’t have enough of each other. They have fixed their second meeting even before their creamed spinach and poached eggs along with martinis have arrived at their table.

Carol begins with the old-fashioned, sweet feeling of falling in love that we generally associate happening between a man and a woman: as with classic Hollywood romances, they are also from very different social backgrounds. While Therese’s circle is made of would-be artists, movie writers from The New York Times in 50s New York, Carol’s is the relatively conservative elite circle of her husband’s friends, business associates and their wives.

It feels like a 50s Hollywood movie in Christmassy New York with Carter Burwell’s gentle, warm melodies keeping company. I couldn’t help think of a connection with Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol since the entire story revolves around Christmas.

Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt , Carol is about an aspiring photographer’s unlikely romance with an older, married (about to be divorced) and rich suburban woman. Highsmith, who wrote the 1952 lesbian novel, an exception in her body of work that comprises crime thrillers, was inspired by a similar incident when she was working in a toyshop, charmed by the sight of a mink-coat wearing upper class, elegant lady. She later wrote down the outline of the novel during a fever, a condition, that she later said, stimulated her erotic imagination.

In one moment it is an American road movie of lovers on the run like Bonnie and Clyde , the next an erotic thriller in motel rooms like Lolita and in another, a lesbian pulp fiction with spies and hidden cameras. It’s these hybrid genre elements of Highsmith’s text that director Todd Haynes incorporates so well that makes Carol an unexpected love story.



Carol

Director: Todd Haynes

Writers: Phyllis Nagy, Patricia Highsmith

Starring: Cate Blanchette, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandle, Jake Lacy, Sarah Paulson

Runtime: 118 mins



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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 10:07:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/the-woman-in-a-fur-coat/article8283421.ece

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