In a storm of passion and romance, Carol takes the silver screen through the eyes of a person in love. The 2015 film, directed by Todd Haynes –previously known for 2002 Far From Heaven, the period drama about forbidden love— rides on the familiar waves of infatuation and undeniable connection that comes with being completely in love.
Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, an author more often recognized for her crime thrillers such as The Talented Mr. Ripley, the story follows Therese Belivet, a young woman played by Rooney Mara, who becomes entranced at first sight by a magnificently poised femme fatale (Cate Blanchete). As subsequent events draw them closer and mark their poignant interest for one another, it becomes obvious the significance each has on the other’s happiness. However, the 1950/1960’s setting shows their relationship as a frontier not yet understood and much less legally respected. This poses a problem especially as Carol, our femme fatale, is a just recently divorced mother.
The film’s cinematography is intimate and gothic with a score that matches the subtle suspense and intensity of a budding romance. Rooney Mara, lauded for 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, gives a spectacular performance of a vulnerable, yet open creature trying for her own happiness. With 5 Golden Globe and 6 Oscar nominations, Carol may be the best romance of the year. To be sure, this is not a movie for everyone, as the subject of love between two women is not yet as generally accepted as the typical heterosexual relationships portrayed in Hollywood. Unfortunately, beyond terrific acting, visual and sound direction, a weakness lies in the script for leaving a bit to be desired in immersing the viewer into the realness of the characters. The film is best appreciated when one embraces the simplicity of the connection between the two protagonists.
A high three stars.
A note from Gach Noi:
Traditional theater in Vietnamese culture, such as the operatic ‘Cai Luong,’ showcases tragedies and romantic tragedies full of plots and twists tying in economic and class dynamics to Shakespearean breaks in family relations. Yet the representation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters are still taboo in popular literature and we are yet to see “out” role models in the Vietnamese community. As more significant and respected quality media such as Carol are presented and embraced, so will the notion of love between any two people, regardless of gender, be embraced as an inarguable asset to humanity.
**Author’s note: I hope you’ve enjoyed this first movie review. There are many more to come, for a very diverse range of films. This first one is very dear to me, and I hope to continue sharing movies that may mean something more to you! Keep your eye out and happy viewing! (I’d love to hear your input, so comment below for thoughts or requests.)
Watch Carol’s trailer below: