Following the love affair of recently divorced mother, Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), and a young, aspiring photographer Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), Carol is a beautifully filmed romantic drama exploring the difficulties of homosexuality in 1950’s New York.
Without a doubt, the most electrifying part to this film are the performances of both Mara and Blanchett. The way they present their love is so effortless, so raw to their characters’ true emotions. You can feel their connection with just a quick look across the room at each other. The whole scene becomes drawn to them, there is no room for anyone else. Considering these two actors are major players in their field, I was skeptical at first, as to whether the two talents would become conflicting, but I was proven very very wrong. The chemistry was exquisite, and Blanchett’s conveyance of her torment between choosing Therese or her four year old daughter (of whom her ex-husband is using for blackmail upon discovering their affair) is nothing short of extraordinary.
The whole scene becomes drawn to them, there is no room for anyone else.
The subtlety of guilt dispersed throughout the film is also an interesting motif. Neither of the women want to hurt their previous partners, and you really start to feel the shame forced upon them in society. And yet, they maintain such a comfortability and certainty of their relationship when they are together. The only criticism being, that the dialogue often doesn’t quite match up with the tension expressed in the actress’ mannerisms towards one another. You only really feel their connection in the subtle touches and glances of each other.
When I started this film, I had assumed it was inevitably going to be a heartbreaking tale, almost expecting A Brief Encounter like story – which, funnily enough, is referenced in the film – with the pain of not being able to be with the one you love forcing you to get the tissues out. But again, I was wrong. Yet, I’m unsure if I prefer this happy ending. I often think that in these types of tense romantic dramas, it is somewhat less powerful, less convincing. Perhaps I’m a skeptic when it comes to the concept of eternal love but, as one Guardian review stated, it was almost like it was ‘too perfect’, it all went too well, and you’re left there hoping for some more chaos.
“The first time love between two women didn’t end badly”
And yet, Cate Blanchett emphasised the fact in a recent interview that the book in which the film was based on (The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith) was groundbreaking, because it was “the first time love between two women didn’t end badly”. So maybe we needed this story. Maybe Hollywood needed this to stop being so scared about exploring more diversity in their romantic relationships. The only film encapsulating this same level of focus and intensity of a homosexual relationship is Brokeback Mountain, which did not have the same happy ending as Carol. I think its time to see happier relationships, to show that homosexuality in Hollywood can make the distance. And thats why I think Carol, is much more than just two fine actresses on a screen, its about changing our perceptions of film and the movie industry.
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson
Nominations: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay
Why You Should Watch It:
To become part of a new and inspiring move forward in the Hollywood industry, and to watch a beautifully filmed and sensational performances that truly convey what it means to be in love.
What It Was Missing:
Depends on each person’s perception of love. Some associate it with heartbreak, struggle and sacrifice. This story plucks at your heartstrings, but perhaps a more dramatic ending would suit other viewers and critics.
The Worldly Rating: *****