One of my early reactions after seeing Todd Haynes‘ Carol was that costars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who play closeted lovers in this 1952 Manhattan-based tale, are evenly matched in every sense of the term — neither dominates the other in terms of passion or screen time, and both parts are equally important. But conventional thinking says that the Weinstein Co. campaigning Blanchett vs. Mara in the Best Actress category would be self-cancelling (how could it not be?), and so a theoretical narrative seemed to emerge over the last few days that Blanchett, who’s already won two acting Oscars (Best Supporting for portraying Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, Best Actress for her lead perfofmrance in 2013’s Blue Jasmine), would be pushed for Best Actress with Mara presented as a Best Supporting Actress contender — even though that idea makes no sense if you’ve seen the film. The argument that Blanchett’s titular character drives the narrative is not an open-and-shut proposition — one could easily argue that Rooney’s character is in fact the lead protagonist. In any event the Blanchett-first scenario has now been upended with Mara having won a Best Actress prize during last night’s Cannes Film Festival awards. Yes, the Weinsteiners can wave this off and still insist that Blanchett is their Best Actress pony with Mara campaigning in a supporting capacity, and that might work if everyone agrees to wear blinders. I only know that after last night there’s a strong argument against running Mara in supporting. There’s no way to kick this around without seeing Carol first, but any way you slice it Harvey Weinstein and his marketers are looking at a tricky situation.
“Pool photo” by Yves Herman accompanied a 5.24 Manohla Dargis N.Y. Times interview with Haynes.