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How ‘Carol’ Score Turned Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s Flirtation Into Sex (Exclusive Video)

Composer Carter Burwell had to use subtlety and restraint to put across big emotions in Todd Haynes’ acclaimed drama

For decades, Carter Burwell has been a go-to composer for the Coen brothers, Spike Jonze and Todd Haynes, all of whom have hired the New York native to write music for multiple films.

He’s surprisingly still looking for his first Oscar nomination, with two prime candidates in 2015 alone: his scores for the animated film “Anomalisa” from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, and Haynes’ exquisite “Carol.”

In this video, premiering exclusively at TheWrap, Burwell talked about what it took to capture the world of “Carol” in music.

In the early scenes, Burwell said, the women played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara can’t even acknowledge the attraction they feel in 1950s New York. “The characters themselves are not able to express what’s going on,” said Burwell, who wrote three different themes to capture the course of their love at different stages.

And when the film gets to the passionate love scene in which the characters finally let go of their inhibitions, Burwell said that Haynes told him, “Here, you can push it.” Still, the score is rich in subtlety and nuance, the hallmarks of a quietly compelling film.

Burwell won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award for best composer this year, with the organization citing his work for both “Carol” and “Anomalisa.”