starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler
screenplay by Phyllis Nagy, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
directed by Todd Haynes
by Walter Chaw Todd Haynes movies tend to grow on me. I expect that Carol, his adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt, will do the same. First pass, though, finds me considering a film adapted by a filmmaker I like from an author I adore as fully twenty minutes too long with enough fake-out climaxes and epilogues that you can almost see the air hissing out of it. Maybe it has something to do with the relative straight-forwardness of Haynes's approach here. Gone are the Sirk shrines that indicate his best work as a modern evocation of the great German expat's lush Technicolor tragedies; Carol doesn't pack the same kind of punch, because it doesn't allow us to access it as allegory. A couple of longing, lingering moments shot through snow-wet car windows and in Edward Hopper-framed hotel rooms (it's Haynes's most Wenders work), as well as a final shot that is the picture at its most evocative and unapologetically Romantic, point to the film that might have been. It could have been a more hypnotic exercise. It could have found a certain lulling rhythm in its longueurs. In Carol, the high stylization of Haynes is evoked mainly in the carefully-affected stiffness of the performances. Highsmith's prose is a delight but, freed of the awful gestalt of its pulsing drive, it proves a tall order for the cast asked to speak it.