I was somewhat late to the Carol party, much to my folly. I’d had my eye on this film for a while, and went so far as to publish a ‘who wants to come with me?’ post on Facebook months in advance of its release, only to finally make it to the cinema in its last week of showing.
My mistake. I should’ve dropped everything and stopped my life to see this film earlier. It is that good. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should run to the cinema over the next few days or pre-order it on iTunes (which I did the night after I saw it at the cinema. Again, it’s that good). Here’s why:
Therese, a 19-year-old department store clerk meets glamorous soon-to-be divorcée Carol close to Christmas in 1952. What follows is a love story so gripping that I almost forgot to eat my popcorn. Both an exploration of the excitement and terror of falling in love and a heart-breaking social commentary, the strength of the storyline has you on the edge of your seat until the final scene.
I have to admit, I hadn’t seen all that much of the formidable Cate Blanchett’s work before Carol. The film, however, is a tour de force for the veteran Australian actress. She is simply breath taking, a study in subtlety, she rips your heart out without so much as raising her voice. Rooney Mara becomes almost a mirror for Blanchett, so reserved is her character. There’s a quiet intensity in Mara’s performance, however, that makes the connection between the two electrifying.
When I watch films like Carol I find myself wishing that I had lived in the 50s, sans the homophobia and patriarchal bullshit. Carol’s every look is enviable, from her gorgeous (hopefully faux, but likely not, alas) fur coat to the crisp grey suit she wears when she and Therese take tea.
The visual experience
It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but the lighting in the film is stunning. As much as Carol is gripping and brilliant, it is also a feast for the eyes. Perfect attention to detail has carefully recreated the 1950s, from the toys floor of the department store to Carol’s beautiful country home. The cinematography is masterful, particularly in the use of the reflections of car windows and soft lenses to leave the rest of a particular scene to the imagination.
Overall, it’s an event of filmmaking. Recently dubbed the best LGBT film of all time by the British Film Institute, it’s a movie that transcends sexuality and gender to simply tell a love story, and is ground-breaking in its nonchalance towards its revolutionary nature, if that makes any sense at all. I’ll stop waffling now – if you get the chance, see it. You won’t be disappointed.