Sunday, 29 March 2015

Carol - Todd Haynes adds Patricia Highsmith, circa 1948, to his retro looks

Let me fill you in with a para from the excellent biography “Beautiful Shadow” by Andrew Wilson (Bloomsbury, 2003): In December 1948...(Patricia Highsmith) was working temporarily in the toy Department of Bloomingdale’s when into the store walked an elegant woman wearing a mink coat. That initial encounter lasted no longer than a few minutes, yet its effect on Highsmith was dramatic. After serving the woman, who bought a doll for one of her daughters, leaving her delivery details, Highsmith later confessed to feeling ‘odd and swimmy in the head, near to fainting, yet at the same time uplifted as if I had seen a vision’. At the end of her shift she went home and wrote the plot for The Price of Salt, published in 1952 under a pseudonym (Clare Morgan), and, in 1990, re-issued under her own name as Carol.”

Sometime in 2014 Todd Haynes began shooting a film version with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, titled Carol and if you want to know as much as anyone knows about the venture, which I imagine is heading for Cannes in a month or two, you can go here to youtube where you will find a couple of beautifully assembled sequences of stills, set to songs sung gently by Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole, which indicate at least that the film is full of some gorgeous design and art decoration. Its a specialty of Haynes and those who have seen his earlier, Poison (1991), Far From Heaven (2002), I'm Not There (2007) and his fine TV mini-series, Mildred Pierce (2011) will need no convincing that he can get the surfaces right.  I hope you dont mind hopeless adoration but the continued fascination with Highsmith is one of my fetishes, tropes, whatever you want to call it. This is not a lonely task. The playwright Joanna Murray-Smith is another devotee as this earlier post on the Film Alert blog indicates.

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