Cert: PG Runtime: 116 mins Director: Todd Haynes Cast: Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Michelle Williams, Jaden Michael and Julianne Moore
Todd Haynes gave cinema a true masterclass with Carol a few years ago. He follows it up with Wonderstruck based on the book by Bryan Selznick. One of Cannes biggest films seems to have faltered during it’s release worldwide. People haven’t reached out to his work, but Haynes is used to it! It’s not even out in the UK until April!!! During my Christmas break I was fortunate enough to watch it in Amsterdam, so my wait was cut short. So what is Wonderstruck all about? Ben (Oakes Fegley) and Rose (Millicent Simmonds) are children from two different eras who secretly wish that their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he’s never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue and Rose reads an enticing headline, they both set out on epic quests to find what they’re missing.
Going into Wonderstruck without knowing its source novel, I could only judge and how it worked as the film I was watching, and it worked splendidly. It took me about ten minutes to get into its conceit and once there I was with it the entire time. Wonderstruck is a beautifully told story that surprises you because there is little dialogue. The story ties together two deaf children, a girl in 1927, and a boy in 1977, both of whom go to New York searching for family but discover more than expected at the Natural History Museum. The 1927 scenes are shot in black and white and take on that slightly frantic pace old silent films have, where everyone seems to walk just a little too briskly. The 1977 scenes are the exact opposite, with vivid, colourful clothing, filmed in a slow, languid, hot summer style.
When words are spoken, they are sometimes shown from the perspective of the children, without subtitles, but these aren’t necessary as the stories unfold into each other, with some surprising results. Wonderstruck is a lovely evocation of the nervous energy and creativity of youth and the joyful quiet of being deaf. Regardless of physical challenges, the film embraces our early search to connect with parents and set loose the creative energy latent in youth. Both Millicent Simmonds and Oakes Fegley give stellar performances, they enhance Haynes vision. Not everyone will have the patience to go with Haynes’ vision, but, for those of us that do, it’s quite satisfying.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 118 mins Director: Todd Haynes Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Pulson, Jake Lacy and Kyle Chandler
Some people change your life forever
Todd Haynes is one of the gems in film making community. Carol is his latest venture and it has been ringing in the film communities ear for a while. It has been on my radar for some months now and it was worth the wait. This was a film that was labelled as the lesbian film of 2015. You can clearly see this is a film about love. I do hope that it does get a good audience and the stigma disappears. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s book of the same title Carol is the story of Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. The two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences.
This is a cinematic master-class from Todd Haynes I haven’t seen such a perfectly made film in a very long time. The framing, score, lens, cinematography, editing, sound mixing and acting are phenomenal. This is a film about love not being gay. You go through Carol connecting with the character, we have all experienced love and all it’s toils in our life. It really hits the heart at some moments and Haynes does not emphasise the hardship of being gay in the 1950’s. It’s the journey of a young woman finding her feet in life and Carol finding happiness that she deserves. Haynes never highlights the build up of the friendship of the girls, you have to observe it yourself. There is a lot going on in each shot and a keen eye is needed. Carol is mainly conveyed through looks and innuendo this is what makes it interesting. We are continuously wondering what are they thinking? do they know they like each other? It’s utterly gripping.
Cate Blanchett’s performance as Carol is nothing but stellar, honestly I couldn’t think of a better casting. She is so strong, free spirited but she can convey her tender side well too. She has gone through a lot in her life to get to the stage she is at when she meets Therese. Clearly she just wants to be happy, but her marital issues are holding her back. Rooney Mara had a lot more work in her character she’s fragile, naive and sweet. But she is a very sheltered character so we have a lot more facially expressive performance from Rooney. Mara is very selective of her films and I am utterly delighted she went for Carol. The chemistry between them is electrifying and I think we all can agree award nominations are coming. Kyle Chandler and Sarah Pulson give great supporting roles too, it’s not the two dimensional characters we normally see in a drama. Carol is by far one of the best films of the year and I would encourage anyone with a love of cinema to watch it. It’s not for everyone but it’s worth a risk.