Carol is a movie that takes place during Christmas, yet it has nothing insightful to say about the holidays. The film is directed by Todd Haynes who is not well known even though he has created many movies. Carol flies under the radar save for one reason: It is a story about lesbians. It is also a film about lesbians getting decent exposure to the public. For many, this subject is reason enough to see Carol, however the film is worth seeing for many other reasons.
I decided to see this film for a couple reasons. Mainly because the reviews have been largely positive. It also possesses a unique style. It takes place in’50s america and feels similar to Mad Men. I am also aware that an actress named Cate Blanchett plays the lead role. I must confess to being unfamiliar with her work as an actress. I will say that her performance in this film is adequate. She is the most complex character so her performance requires the most effort. The success of Carol depends on her more than on any other actor or actress. I find her the most likable persona in the movie. The other prominent actress is Rooney Mara. It’s difficult to care too much for her character because she’s not likable. One can never quite tell what’s on her mind as her default facial expression is empty of emotion. Occasionally she exhibits flashes of joy or sadness but these moments are short-lived.
The strength of this film is its visual style. When you watch Carol, it will be hard to feel bored because every scene has something interesting. Many insignificant shots are elevated simply by the way that items and people are arranged within them. There is plenty of visual fodder for film students writing papers. I would also bet that Carol will reward repeated viewings due to the amount of information conveyed in a subtle fashion. You will also get more from Carol if you are more familiar with the 1950s in America. Often I was unsure of the meaning of slight character behaviors.
The film does drag as the love story progresses. It is most interesting during the first half as we are introduced to the characters and the film’s unique style. I did start to feel bored of the film in the second half. There are a few twists but nothing really surprised me. The most titillating moment is a vivid sex scene. It’s surprising because until that moment, you see the two women as friends with no sexual desire for each other. The audience in my theater was completely silent when that moment hit.
I expect this movie to be nominated for and possibly win many award categories. Cate Blanchett is a strong contendor for best leading actress. I feel that major credit should be given to Todd Haynes for his work as the director. Haynes will be someone I look forward to hearing from in the future.