Carol

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Carol Movie Poster Image
Moving, beautifully acted '50s-set drama about secret love.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Integrity is a major theme. Being true to yourself may not be the easiest path, but it's the only way to inner peace and true happiness. Integrity is an additi

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carol is fighting a huge battle to be authentic to herself and her sexual identity at a time when that meant being ostracized and losing your rights to your child. Nonetheless, she fights on, preferring to be true to herself than to living a lie. Therese is young and still trying to figure it out, but she, too, comes to a decision not to live as someone she isn't. 

Violence

A husband screams at and manhandles his wife during an argument. A private investigator spies on two women and is menacing in his approach to his job. 

Sex

A couple has sex in a tastefully filmed, non-gratuitous scene; breasts are shown.

Language

"Damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of social drinking. A man comes home drunk and belligerent. Also lots of period-accurate smoking (nearly constantly for one character).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carol is a deeply affecting 1950s-set drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara about love, identity, friendship, sexuality, and marriage that explores mature themes. Expect lots of period-accurate smoking and some social drinking in this story that explores the risks -- and rewards -- of being true to who you really are. The two stars are shown making love in a non-gratuitous scene; there's some nudity, mainly breasts. Language is mild.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTracie N. September 21, 2016
Adult Written bydavispittman May 29, 2017

Moving lesbian themed 1950s romance

Carol is a wonderfully acted 1950s romantic melodrama, it stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. The two lead actresses do a great job at playing their roles in... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bybasicbelivet December 24, 2015

completely mesmerising

It is a beautiful and mesmerising film. The acting from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara is phenomenal and wonderful to watch. It is a completely beautiful love s... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byInnocentUke June 24, 2016
This is an exquisitely shot movie with compelling characters and amazing messages; appealing to anyone struggling with coming to terms with social image and per... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt, CAROL tells the story of Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), a 1950s New Jersey housewife estranged from her husband who finds herself drawn to aspiring photographer/Manhattan shopgirl Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) when their paths cross on a shopping trip. When Therese reaches out to return gloves that Carol has forgotten at the store, so begins a friendship that evolves quickly into a passionate love. But there's a wrinkle: Carol's husband (Kyle Chandler) won't let her be -- let alone give her access to their daughter -- as Carol and Therese explore an attraction that can't and won't be denied, despite the prejudices of their time.

Is it any good?

This movie will haunt you with its tale of love denied and forbidden and a woman's quest to live authentically while facing social prejudices and bigotry that force her to make a difficult choice. Director Todd Haynes, as always, works with a saturated, Douglas Sirk-ian palette, but Carol's vibrancy is dimmed here by a layer of melancholy -- an apt choice, given the storyline.

Blanchett and Rooney make a powerful pair, perfectly matched like a veteran duo partnering up for an intricate and challenging ballet. And as Carol's best friend/former lover, Sarah Paulson gives a master class in grounded acting; in fact, almost everyone in the film comes across as a fully embodied person, neither caricature nor overthought character. And they're all supported by a potently rendered, empathetic script that's both achingly beautiful and hauntingly painful.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Carol and her choices: What were her realistic options? How would her situation be different today?

  • How does this film differ from others in the way it handles the subject of sexuality? How might this movie have been received if it came out in the era it takes place in?

  • How does the movie handle sex? What does it represent for the characters? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How do the characters in Carol demonstrate integrity? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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