Cannes 2015: Cate Blanchett's Lesbian Love Story is Leading Contender for Palme d'Or

  | May 17, 2015 16:58 IST (Cannes, France)
Cannes 2015

Cate Blanchett poses during a photocall for the film Carol at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17. Image courtesy: AFP

Early reviews for the film, directed by American filmmaker Todd Haynes, have been so glowing that it is already generating Oscar buzz - at the very least for Australian actress Cate Blanchett

A leading contender for the Palme d'Or, Carol, starring Cate Blanchett in a lesbian love story, gets its world premiere at Cannes on May 17.
Early reviews for the film, set in New York in the 1950s and directed by American film-maker Todd Haynes, have been so glowing that it is already generating Oscar buzz - at the very least for Australian actress Cate Blanchett, 46.
Cate, who has already won two acting Oscars, for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, is "incandescent" in the role of a socialite who begins a relationship with a shopgirl (played by Rooney Mara) despite the personal and societal hazards that poses, according to Variety magazine.

It has "supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order," Variety said. Reviewers were nearly unanimous over Todd Haynes's "masterful" restraint, which drew the audience along until the end, when a stately yet powerful climax brought tears to the eyes of even hardened film critics.

Movie website Indiewire called it 'a love story that starts at a trickle, swells gradually to a torrent, and finally bursts the banks of your heart.'

The movie is based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, who wrote crime thrillers including The Talented Mr Ripley. Here, there is no "crime" committed - although the women's relationship is viewed as such in the reproving period in which it is set.

"The almost-pathological paranoia that is usually defined as criminal is, in this case, romantic," Tod Haynes, who is gay, explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Even before it became a story about lesbian love - which was, of course, criminal, as defined by the world at that time - it was just about love itself as something criminal, he said."

Ultimately, though, it seeks to tell a universal love story built around themes of sacrifice and defiance, and pursuing love with dignity.

That it is filmed with superlative costumes, intricate attention to detail, and irreproachable performances heightens the impact.

Mr Haynes and Cate had worked together before, on I'm Not There, in which Cate is one of a cast of actors who play Bob Dylan.

If Carol ends up winning Cannes's Palme d'Or trophy in a week's time, it won't be the first time a sensitive picture about a lesbian couple has won over the jury.

Blue is the Warmest Colour, a French lesbian drama, picked up the top prize in 2013. In an unusual step, the award was given not just to the director but also to the two female leads, in order to bypass a Cannes rule that the Palme d'Or and acting trophies cannot go to the same film.

Carol, which has been financed by British and American companies, is scheduled to be released in the United States in December - a key point in the calendar for films seen with Oscar potential. The rest of the world will likely only get to see it in 2016.

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