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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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.
- In theaters: November 20, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 15, 2016
- Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson
- Director: Todd Haynes
- Studio: The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters
- Character Strengths: Integrity
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: a scene of sexuality/nudity and brief language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.