Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven (2002) slayed critics with its provocative presentation of modern racial and sexual issues through the lens of a high-Hollywood 50s melodrama. Haynes returns to that formula with this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, which deals with a lesbian affair. Cate Blanchett is the title character, a New York wife and mother struggling to escape from her straight marriage, and her mix of bravado and vulnerability has seldom been used to greater effect; Kyle Chandler is moving as her anguished husband, who refuses to accept the truth about her sexuality and leverages custody of her daughter against her. Unfortunately their fine work is weighed down by Rooney Mara's inert performance as Carol's young lover, a countergirl at Bloomingdale's who suggests a doll with the battery removed. As a love story this left me unsatisfied, though I enjoyed the lush period trappings (from costumer Sandy Powell and production designer Judy Becker) and the flattering sense of how enlightened I am compared to people in the 1950s.
By J.R. Jones