This is director Todd Haynes’ second 1950s-era melodrama, after the Douglas Sirk-influenced
Far From Heaven, in which Julianne Moore plays a suburban housewife with a closeted gay husband. This time — in a story adapted from a 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith, which she published under a pseudonym due to its lesbian plotline — it’s glamorous New Jersey housewife Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) who’s gay and nudging the closet door open. She’s going through a difficult separation and divorce from her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), during the holiday season when she meets Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), an ingénue working the counter at a New York City department store. The alchemy between Therese and Carol is instant, and glorious to behold, as the film centers on the remarkable performances of these two actresses, both nominated for Academy Awards. Every disparate element of the film adds to its virtuosity, from the period designs to the score. Rated R. 118 minutes. Violet Crown.