Carol will rattle your heart and leave you wanting more. This lesbian romantic drama film is both aesthetically pleasing and cinematically genius. Admittedly, the plot moves slower than most other modern romantic movies; in fact, while I was enchanted, I overheard a couple in the audience mumbling about how boring it was and how they snoozed off.
However, Carol’s slow pace is more than made up for by the film’s beauty and elegance.
Inspired by the 1952 novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, the movie whisks the audience back to an enchanting 1950s vision of Manhattan. The plot centres on two charismatic women from very different backgrounds whose chance encounter leads to an undeniable bond. With many complicated factors standing against them, they both go through a dilemma filled journey that makes them ask how much they will risk for true love.
Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) is in a loveless marriage of convenience. As a result of her scandalous interactions with women, her husband takes legal matters to bring into question whether or not she is a suitable mother. The film portrays the challenges faced by lesbians in the 1950s authentically, showing the struggles faced by Carol when she is forced to choose between her daughter or the love of her life.
Director Todd Haynes does a phenomenal job, illustrating most of the plot rather than narrating it — showing us, rather than telling us, about what it’s like to fall madly and truly in love. Haynes depicts the film’s story so gracefully that the seemingly unfathomable concept of ‘gay love’ is no longer something foreign, but the same as any other passionate love. As a result, anybody is likely to be moved by the powerful emotion and artistic value this film offers.
Both lead actors are spectacular. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara will convince you of not only every large dramatic moment, but also the little moments. They absolutely disappear into the eccentric characters of Carol Aird and Therese Belivet — and if you aren’t careful, they have the power to emotionally tear you apart in those meager two hours.
Carol is also the most cinematically impressive film I have seen in a long time. The simple symbolic actions, minimal dialogue, innovative filming techniques, and powerful cast are all factors that make this film successful. Todd Haynes really proves his directing genius. He subtly challenges the audience to perceive the story as more than a niche ‘lesbian romance,’ but an honest and beautiful unravelling of the lovesick heart.