Movie Review: Carol

I must admit, I’ve seen quite a few amazing movies in the past few weeks, and I feel like a better person because of it. Escapism in movies is always a relaxing, enjoyable activity, but this last batch of films have visually and intellectually stimulating settings and plots, enhancing my experience. My next movie to review is Carol, based on the book The Price of Salt. Though I’ve never read the book, the film’s story follows a young Therese Belivet, played by Rooney Mara, an older woman, played by Cate Blanchette, and the suffusion of their romance in an era unkind to LGBT people.
The movie was very sensual, as the couple experience not a fiery, passionate love affair, but a delicately progressing one. Therese was slowly drawn in by Carol, as if reading a novel. Slowly and steadily, with increasing desire and curiosity with every page. I was happy to notice the parallels between Therese’s experience with Dannie, the young man who works for the New York Times, and Carol. As I’ve read in the fantastic book, Come as you Are, Dr. Nagosi explains that men typically experience spontaneous arousal, while women are aroused by a myriad of stimuli that make up the situational context. This is the trend, not the rule. The way the two women’s romance proceeds, it is very much driven by context.  I also noticed textures were often used in this film, with many scene shot through the dirty windshield glass of Carol’s car. This gave me a tactile sense of the action; coupled with the attention to music and sound through Therese’s piano playing and Carol’s records, all senses are addressed, like the film equivalent of crushed velvet.
I think anyone would fall in love with Kate Blanchette’s portrayal of the elegant, tragic Carol. Armed with a fantastic wardrobe, her movements are graceful, and her speech is soft and deliberate. Much of the story is concerned with the comparison of romantic and maternal love. In being forced to choose between the young ingenue and her daughter, Carol bears a heavy burden of choice. In classic 1950’s fashion, she does not allow herself to be seen as distraught. In the situation she finds herself in, there is no way to resolve it unscathed, or without losing someone.
The time in which this film is set is incredibly important to understand the characters and their motivation. In this way, the movie also acts as a time capsule, cataloging the issues surrounding female and queer identity in a very conservative time. The characters adjacent to Carol and Therese all seem to know that homosexuality exists, but dismiss it. Carol’s husband says that he disdains “women like you,” to Carol, while Therese’s boyfriend doesn’t seem to understand or be able to read her even before she leaves for Chicago with Carol.
Overall, I would recommend this film for anyone interested in the time period or a quiet drama concerning women, love, or LGBT issues. It is not my favorite film, but I acknowledge that the acting is sincere and the experience is contemplative.  7/10
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