Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

Oct 11, 2015

'Carol' Looks at The 1950s With an Abstract Expressionist's Lens

| By Jennifer Landes
Cate Blanchett dances with Kyle Chandler, who plays her estranged husband in "Carol." Hamptons International Film Festival
The Hampton International Film Festival's Centerpiece film "Carol" was screened on Sunday at Guild Hall. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, and Kyle Chandler.

"Carol" is a love story between two women adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, set in the early 1950s. It shares two South Fork connections in its composer, Carter Burwell, and its co-producer Christine Vachon, who leads the Stony Brook Southampton graduate film program.

After the screening, Mr. Haynes said in a discussion on stage that the film differed from his "Far from Heaven," which was set in the late 1950s, in that it "suggested a different climate to me. I was looking at the love story on film and how the most resonant love stories situate you vis-a-vis the characters and how you almost always identify with the more vulnerable character, the one who is more liable to be hurt by the other."

He favored an abstracted style of shooting, inspired by Saul Leiter, a photographer and Abstract Expressionist painter from the period, who died in 2013. The scenes Mr. Haynes directed “are almost abstract paintings in cafes or snowy landscapes of New York City with awnings cutting the frame in half.” He said he started with Leiter and then found other photographic references from the period, “a lot of them female photojournalists of the time, to my surprise,” such as Ruth Orkin and Vivian Maier.

The music, too, added to the mood and sensibility of the story and the era without being too literal or overpowering.

"It was a low-budget film, a period film, where every detail mattered intensely to the narrative, but also to the development of character,” Mr. Haynes said. 

“Carol” is playing again tomorrow in Sag Harbor at 4:15 p.m.

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