The easy descriptors for Todd Haynes's take on Patricia Highsmith’s tale of socially unacceptable female relationships during the early ’50s are words like “sumptuous,” “ravishing,” and maybe “entrancing” (that last thanks to a command performance from Cate Blanchett as a failed wife, loving mother, and motherly lover). But the more important adjectives are “open,” “adult,” and best of all, “human.” The lesbian affair at its heart is rendered with intelligence and care, and if there are speeches to be made, they are happily few, and far more personal than political. Rooney Mara is appropriately wide-eyed as the Bright Young Thing, and Kyle Chandler manages to make his portrayal of the embittered ex both sour and sympathetic. Your take on the rather drawn-out denouement, however, may vary depending on what kind of story you thought you were watching. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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