I am very sad to be disappointed by this film – 2/5
I was so excited to watch Carol and I’m more disappointed by the fact that I didn’t like it than with the film itself, if that makes sense. I should like this film, it’s about women, it stars my beautiful vegan herione Rooney Mara and the equally beautiful though sadly not vegan Cate Blanchett. It has gorgeous costumes and amazing music, but after about half an hour in I felt like something was lacking and that was humour.
In the 1950’s, Therese (Rooney Mara) is working in the toy section of a department store in new York at Christmas time, when she catches sight of Carol (Cate Blanchett) across the toys. They hit it off and fall into a love affair with each other, Therese discovering her sexuality and Carol an old hat at this. Meanwhile, Carol is divorcing her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) and as retribution he has taken their daughter Rindy (Sadie and Kk Heim) and is fighting for full custody of her.
It’s not that I was expecting a romantic comedy from Carol, but humour and lightness is generally how humans connect. Apart from one scene with Therese and Carol playing about with make-up, all of their interactions are solemn and filled with silence. They obviously felt lustful for each other but aside from that they didn’t show any real connection to demonstrate any real love. For the most part it felt like Therese was constantly in awe of Carol and that treating her as this superior being meant they never had that equal partnership that romance ought to be. With Carol it felt like she was having a bit of fun with Therese while trying to escape the mistreatment from her ex husband. There seemed to be characters there behind the surface, mostly due to Rooney and Cate being interesting, complicated actors, but both characters were so private and withdrawn that we never got a chance to get close to them.
The whole film takes itself so seriously and it’s not that the discrimination of LGBTQ people of that time and now is not serious, but in a film it starts to drain and can’t hold interest for the full two hours. Amid the glamour and sheen of the 1950’s elegance I wanted to see a bit of raw reality, but everything was perfect from the old timey warm colour cast over the film to Therese’s always neatly pressed outfits.
It’s fantastic to see a lesbian love story in a relatively mainstream film, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to stop it from going through the motions of a pretty regular love story. However, for a lesbian audience I can imagine that this was very welcome. When their love stories are rarely told to be able to go to the cinema and see one treated just the same as a heterosexual romance is something that is long overdue.
I read the first couple of pages of the book Carol in a bookshop and it was instantly engaging and somewhat sarcastic, so when I get round to reading it hopefully I’ll find the story I was hoping for.
Director: Todd Haynes (I’m Not There)
Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy (adapted from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith)
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, John Magaro
Length: 1 hour 58 minutes