Carol

Carol-PosterThe film Carol is gorgeous.The clothes, the sets, the cinematography. And the actresses – Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – are both fabulous in this 1950s era forbidden love drama directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) and adapted from a Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) novel. It is a lesbian love story told more through furtive, adoring glances and unspoken understandings than big dramatic moments. It is languid storytelling, but somehow it is effective.

Carol (Blanchett) is the older woman here, unhappily married and on the road to divorce. She’s had a lesbian affair that her husband knows about, though that is over. But when she goes Christmas shopping for a present for her daughter, she meets shop girl Therese (Mara), and there is an immediate mutual attraction. Leaving behind her gloves, Carol creates an opening for the two to connect, and Terese, who has a boyfriend, finds herself unable to stop what is in motion. When Carol’s husband takes her daughter away, using a morals clause to punish her for not being the woman he thought he married, Carol and Therese take their relationship on a road trip, where it deepens. But the reality of losing her child forces Carol to make a heartbreaking choice.

Carol is not an in your face lesbian drama. I don’t think the word is even spoken in the film. Of course those were the days before such things were talked about. But wouldn’t Terese and Carol have talked about their relationship? They don’t really talk about much of anything. It’s strangely lacking in substantive dialogue. This film has so much going for it, but I’m not sure it adds up to the sum of its parts. As I said, it is effective, though not terribly dramatic or particularly romantic. Having said that, I’d still recommend it for the performances and its amazing sense of time and place.

2 Comments

  1. Hannah Buchdahl, December 9, 2015:

    I (Mainstream Chick) agree that Carol is a beautiful film with excellent performances. But it wasn’t my cup of tea. It definitely skews toward an arty audience. For me, the forbidden romance is complicated by the fact that ‘Carol’ is married to ‘Harge’ (Kyle Chandler) who seems like a really decent guy who loves his wife and kid and desperately wants to hold on to his family. Forget about whether it’s another woman or a another man… who would cheat on Kyle ‘Clear Eyes, Full Hearts’ Chandler?? Anyway, to me, that concept proved a distraction. Plus, I watched this movie the same week I saw Brooklyn – and both take place during the same time period, and both have lead characters who work in a department store. So if I had to choose between the two, I preferred “Brooklyn”. My personal preferences aside however, award-season buffs may want to check out Carol to fully understand why Blanchett and Mara are potential nominees for best lead actress (Blanchett) and supporting actress (Mara).

  2. Marika Olsen, January 14, 2016:

    I loved the set dressing and costumes. (Adored it in Brooklyn as well.) It was all gorgeous for the eyes. But that aside, this is a movie that is supposed to be about forbidden love and passion, so I expected the chemistry between the two women to leap off the screen. Instead, I felt nothing. Zzzzz. Yes, the actresses were beautiful. But you don’t need two beautiful people to exude passion (“The Piano” anyone?)

    Worst delivered line of the movie? Carol saying, “And we’re not ugly people.” I almost laughed, it was so badly said. Where was her director for that moment?

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