Telluride 42: Tribute to Rooney Mara and “Carol”

One of the three Tributes at the Telluride Film Festival was for Rooney Mara. “Carol”, for which Mara received the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, was shown as part of the Tribute. Both Mara, whom I thought was overpraised in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, and “Carol” lived up to the Cannes hype.

In a conversation during the Tribute, Mara who has worked with directors that include David Fincher (“The Social Network”, “Dragon Tattoo”) and Todd Haynes (“Carol”) said “I live and die by the director”, adding “I respect them so much” and “if I feel I have something to give, I will follow … to the ends of the earth.” Mara said she is starting to feel “like an artist, not in for hire”.

Rooney Mara at Telluride

Rooney Mara at Telluride

She described Todd Haynes her “Carol” director as a “genius” in costuming. Originally her character was to be dressed in pants. Haynes had her wear skirts.

For her scene at the beginning of “Social Network” where her character breaks up with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), Mara said that the film’s director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin timed her exchange with Eisenberg at rehearsal to make sure they maintained the trade-mark rapid fire delivery of Sorkin’s dialog.

Mara comes from a sports background. Her mother’s family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers and her father’s family founded the New York Giants.

Rooney Mara in "Carol"

Rooney Mara in “Carol”

She spoke about her long-time charitable interest in a boys and girls club that enriches the lives of the children in a Kenya slum.

“Carol” was describes as a film about the “importance of being true to self”. Director Todd Haynes (“Far From Heaven”) said that when he signed on to the film, Cate Blanchett had already been attached. He proudly spoke of bringing Rooney Mara on to the project.

“Carol” is an absorbing film about the developing relationship between two very different women in the 1950s. They first meet when the sophisticated Carol (Cate Blanchett) is shopping for a Christmas gift for her daughter and meets the younger Therese (Rooney Mara) behind the counter. A glove left behind leads to further contact between them.

The film is based on “The Price of Salt”, an early novel by Patricia Highsmith (“Strangers on a Train”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”).

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in "Carol"

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in “Carol”

Carol is separated from her husband (Kyle Chandler) who is still drawn to her. Therese has ambitions toward photography. She is tentative in her personal life, frustrating the young man who considers himself her boyfriend by not agreeing to go on a trip with him.

Director Haynes masterfully shows in subtle glances the growing attraction between Carol and Therese. Both actresses are exceptional. Carol is more determined than Therese, but is aware that her actions could threaten contact with her daughter. Carol is also the more emotional, particularly when confronting her husband.

Haynes also does an impressive job in visually recreating the 1950s. In an overhead shot, Carol’s red clothing stands out against the drab setting and clothing of passersby. As for Therese, Carol remains the strongest presence for the audience.