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Movie Review: 'Carol'

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The movie "Carol" opens today. It's a love story. Film critic Kenneth Turan says, it ranks among the best of the genre.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Carol" is a love story between two women. It's set at a time and place when that relationship was beyond taboo. But those specifics fade and what remains are the feelings and emotions that all the best movie love stories create. And make no mistake, "Carol" belongs in that group. "Carol" is impeccably acted by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as the women in question. It's been made under the total control of director Todd Haynes. He's created a serious melodrama about the geometry of desire that engages emotions completely. The film opens during the 1951 Christmas season with young Therese Belivet, played by Mara, working as a sales girl in the toy section of a New York department store. Enter, truly like a vision out of vogue, ultimate sophisticate, Carol Aird, played by Blanchett. She's searching for a Christmas present for her 4-year-old daughter. The two lock eyes across the bustling sales floor and nothing will ever be the same again.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CAROL")

CATE BLANCHETT: (As Carol) Where'd you learn so much about train sets?

ROONEY MARA: (As Therese) Oh, I read - too much probably.

BLANCHETT: (As Carol) It's refreshing.

TURAN: Carol buys the train set for the child but forgets her gloves. After Therese mails them back, Carol invites her to a get-acquainted lunch.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CAROL")

BLANCHETT: (As Carol) And your first name?

MARA: (As Therese) Therese.

BLANCHETT: (As Carol) Therese. Not Teresa?

MARA: (As Therese) No.

BLANCHETT: (As Carol) Therese Belivet. It's lovely.

MARA: (As Therese) And yours?

BLANCHETT: (As Carol) Carol.

MARA: (As Therese) Carol.

TURAN: Things soon get more complicated for Carol. And she decides, as fictional people are want to do, to take a drive West. She asks Therese if she wants to go as well. And the resulting trip has powerful repercussions that complicate and confound both their lives.

MONTAGNE: Film critic Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.