Cannes 2015: Cate Blanchett’s lesbian movie Carol is Palme D’Or frontrunner

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Brilliant, bewitching Blanchett: Carol is a stylish contender for the Palme d’Or, writes BRIAN VINER.

It hardly amounts to a scandal, but Cate Blanchett’s single passionate scene of love-making with Rooney Mara in the 1950s lesbian romance Carol has given the Cannes Film Festival a little frisson. Blanchett has been causing all kinds of controversy recently after admitting to having “female relationships” in an interview with Variety magazine but she has since denied that any of them were of the sexual persuasion.Cate Blanchett reputation as possibly the greatest actresses of her generation is being cemented further at Cannes, where the premiere of her latest movie “Carol” has won rave reviews.The frisson caused by Cate Blanchett’s apparent revelation last week about having been a lesbian has ended abruptly as she says that she had never had a sexual relationship with a woman.

Cannes — Nothing enlivens a conversation about film more than sex, and sex was never more present than in the conversation about Todd Haynes’ Carol, based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith.Only two years have passed since the Palme d’Or, the coveted prize given to the film voted the best at Cannes, was bestowed on a lesbian romance, the French film Blue Is The Warmest Colour. Born in Melbourne on May 14, 1969, Blanchett began her career on the Australian stage, building up a string of acclaimed theatre performances in the early 1990s before working her way into increasingly high-profile film roles. The title role is taken by the wonderful Cate Blanchett, playing an elegant, well-to-do woman who embarks on a love affair with Therese (Rooney Mara), a pretty sales assistant in a New York department store. While fellow Aussie Naomi Watts has been blowing fashion critics away with her style choices while in the French party town and Aussie Melissa George also made an appearance.

She is now one of the few women in Hollywood with the clout to carry a movie single-handed, a two-time Oscar winner chased by the world’s greatest directors, from Martin Scorsese to Woody Allen to David Fincher. “Carol” sees her reunited with Todd Haynes, who directed her uncanny Oscar-nominated turn as Bob Dylan in 2007’s “I’m Not There”. There are other actresses who could have played the part, of course, but is hard to think of anyone who could have done so quite as bewitchingly as Blanchett. Melissa George poses for photographers upon arrival for the screening of the film Irrational Man at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France.

Her already-lauded performance in “Carol” comes at a time when women are increasingly pushing back against the male-dominated film industry. “Midrange films with women at the centre are tricky to finance. He wrote on Twitter yesterday: “When I asked Cate Blanchett if she’d had lesbian relationships in real life, she said: ‘Many times.’ She was accurately quoted.” Published on May 12, the article stated that when Blanchett was asked if the film was her first turn as a lesbian she responded: “In film or real life?” It continued: “Pressed for details about whether she’s had past relationships with women, she responds: ‘Yes. Blanchett made her breakthrough performance in 1998, playing the 16th century British monarch in “Elizabeth”, which won her a slew of awards and her first Oscar nomination. Many times’, but doesn’t elaborate.” Blanchett said that in any case her sexual history should not matter. “In 2015, the point should be, who cares?

Tumultuous, because it is 1952, Carol is married, albeit unhappily, and the American middle classes, like Queen Victoria, barely acknowledge that lesbianism exists. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought one’s job as an actor was not to present one’s own boring, small, microscopic universe but to raise and expand your sense of the universe to make a psychological and empathetic connection to another character’s experience so you can play them. Supreme Court is even now deciding on the legality of gay marriage. “We’re living in deeply conservative times, and if we think otherwise we’re very foolish.” Phyllis Nagy, who adapted the novel for the screen, said she hopes the film starts a discussion. “Nothing has changed and everything has changed,” she said of the status of gay rights in the more than six decades since Highsmith wrote her book. “We politicize the material by just allowing people to live their lives honestly.” Carol includes a love scene between Carol and Therese, though Haynes said he didn’t think it would run afoul of U.S. censors.

Critics swooned over it after the press screenings the night before; along with Yorgas Lanthimos’ surreal The Lobster and Hungarian Holocaust drama Son of Saul, it became an instant frontrunner for the festival’s final top prize, the Palme D’Or. By 1999, she was back in Cannes, but this time as a star, presenting “An Ideal Husband”. “I was laughing so hard, because only two years earlier, I’d been on the other side of the barricades,” she told Variety.

When asked about it, Blanchett joked about her age – she turned 46 last week and has given birth to three children – before shrugging it off. “It was a scene like any other scene,” she said. “It was quite hilarious actually in a lot of ways.” At the time Highsmith was herself a repressed lesbian and the novel was a huge bestseller, bought and devoured mostly by women like her, all over America. She has been nominated six times at the Academy Awards, winning the supporting actress statuette for another pitch-perfect impression, as Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator” in 2004.

Blanchett has also dabbled in blockbusters, appearing in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Robin Hood”, and all of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films. But it is parts in more indie fare that have built her reputation, from the wealthy socialite in “The Talented Mr Ripley” to the crusading Irish journalist in “Veronica Guerin” or another heavily-accented (and pregnant) reporter in Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”. The New York Times described her as “one of the best and bravest actresses on the planet” after watching her in 2011’s production of “Uncle Vanya”.

The whole nation was clenching under the Cold War … and moving into a deep freeze.” Times might have changed but, as Blanchett points out, less than people suppose.

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