Rooney Mara has signed on to co-star opposite Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’ Carol, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novella, The Price of Salt — a tale some have incorrectly assumed is a suspense thriller. It’s not. It’s a bold romance with a tense road-trip that outdoes Thelma and Louise. From a review in Slate (a link that you shouldn’t read in its entirety unless you want to know too much): Highsmith’s novel preserved the trashy, sexy feel of the pulps but combined it with a grown-up love story that turned the tables. When the novel opens, Therese Belivet is working as a temporary sales clerk at Christmas in the toy department of a large New York department store… Without really intending to, she has managed to acquire a self-absorbed suitor named Richard whose lumpish sexual overtures leave her dismayed. (Highsmith is surely the first major writer to capture from deep inside that mysteriously appalled, don’t-want-to feeling many budding lesbians experience while attempting—for form’s sake—to make it with a guy. “It made her feel self-conscious and foolish, as if she stood embracing the stem of a tree.”) Things heat up dramatically when an unknown woman in furs — blond, 30ish, and as cool and laconic as Barbara Stanwyck in Walk on the Wild Side — visits the Frankenberg’s toy department in search of a doll. For reasons she can’t yet understand, Therese is instantly, tumultuously, attracted to her. (“Her eyes were gray, colorless, yet dominant as light or fire, and caught by them, Therese could not look away.”) And yada yada yada, until… “Everything finally breaks open — shudderingly, voluptuously, breathtakingly, in a tacky little hotel in Waterloo, Iowa… Fab, of course — but what makes the book an exquisite, gobsmacking, pussy-tingling treat is the fact that Highsmith, closeted or not, never loses her nerve.” THR has the production details: Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley are producing Carol for Number 9 Films, with Christine Vachon’s Killer Films co-producing. Shooting is set to begin in spring 2014. U.K. broadcaster Channel 4′s Film4 is a co-financier and co-developer on Carol. “We’re over the moon to have Rooney on board,” said Haynes. “I’ve been a tremendous admirer of her work from the beginning, so the thought of bringing her together with Cate onscreen is thrilling to say the least.” Added Karlsen: “Rooney Mara is one of the most interesting and striking young talents working today. There are few actors who have the weight to play against someone with the extraordinary distinction and mercurial range of Cate Blanchett, and she is one of them. The combination of them both is something potentially sensational.” HanWay Films is handling international sales on Carol and has presold the film to multiple territories, including to The Weinstein Company for the U.S., Entertainment One in Canada, TF1 in France and Icon in Australia. The film marks Haynes’ return to the big screen after his excursions into TV, which included the Golden Globe-winning miniseries Mildred Pierce with Kate Winslet. Did somebody say the story is “a pussy-tingling treat”?