Carol is a 2015 British-American romantic drama film directed by Todd Haynes. The screenplay, written by Phyllis Nagy, is based on the 1952 romance novel The Price of Salt (also known as Carol) by Patricia Highsmith. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy and Kyle Chandler. Set in New York City during the early 1950s, Carol tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring young photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce.
Carol had been in development since 1997, when Nagy wrote the first draft of the screenplay. British company Film4 Productions and its then-chief executive Tessa Ross financed development. The film had a troubled development period, facing problems with financing, rights, scheduling conflicts, and accessibility. Number 9 Films came onboard as a producer in 2011, when co-founder Elizabeth Karlsen secured the rights to the novel. The film is co-produced by New York-based Killer Films, which joined the project when co-founder and Haynes’s collaborator Christine Vachon approached Haynes to direct in 2013. Principal photography began in March 2014, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and lasted 34 days. Cinematographer Edward Lachman shot Carol on Super 16 mm film.
Carol competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where Mara tied for the Best Actress award. The film received critical acclaim and many accolades, including six Academy Award nominations, five Golden Globe Award nominations, and nine BAFTA Award nominations as well as awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and National Society of Film Critics. Carol was named one of the best films of 2015 by numerous critics and publications, appearing in over 130 Top Ten lists. The film opened in limited release in the United States on November 20, 2015, and wide release on January 15, 2016. It was released in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2015.
During the Christmas season of 1952, Therese Belivet, a temporary shopgirl and aspiring photographer, is working in Frankenberg’s department store in Manhattan. She sees a glamorous woman across the room looking at a model train set display. Therese and the woman, Carol Aird, engage in friendly conversation and on Therese’s recommendation she purchases a set for her daughter as a Christmas present. When Carol departs she leaves her gloves behind. Therese takes the gloves home and, using Frankenberg’s sales slip with Carol’s name and address, mails them to her.
Therese’s boyfriend, Richard, wants her to go to France with him, hoping they will marry, but she feels ambivalent about their relationship. A mutual friend, Dannie, invites Therese to his workplace, The New York Times, offering to introduce her to a photo-editor friend. Meanwhile, Carol is going through a difficult divorce from her neglectful husband, Harge, with whom she has a young daughter, Rindy. Carol calls Frankenberg’s to thank the person who returned the gloves and invites Therese to lunch. The two find themselves intrigued by one another. Therese visits Dannie and he seizes the opportunity to kiss her. She lets him, but becomes uncomfortable and leaves.
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