“We’re not ugly people,” Carol Aird pleadingly, but assuredly, insists to her husband during a custody fight that threatens to turn nasty. Carol is a thoroughly humanistic examination of the affair between a shopgirl and a housewife in 1952 New York, and the men in their life who struggle to understand them. It is about identity: the internal challenges to find your own and the external challenges to live it out. It mostly keeps it cool, in a manner that viewers who are not already fully attuned to director Todd Haynes’ restrained style might struggle to fully embrace. But when Cate Blanchett delivers the “ugly people” emphasis, Carol finds the winner’s circle.