Lesbianism is something very commonplace in today’s society. It isn’t something to fear or hide from. It is a normal aspect of the modern world and the beautiful film Carol spends a good amount of time attempting to dilute the stigma attached to it in the sexually-ignorant 1950s. The film explores lesbianism in a way that is both secretive and delicate. The main leads in the movie, played exquisitely by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, are the stuff of film legends. It is a quiet film that deals with a topic many, at the time, considered very taboo. In reality, Carol is an artful piece of cinema that is beautiful to look at, acted near perfectly, and addresses lesbianism in a refreshingly original way.
Set in 1950s New York, Carol focuses on two women from very different backgrounds. There is Carol Aird (Blanchett), a wealthy middle-aged cosmopolite, who is tired of her mundane existence. And there is Therese Believe (Mara), a 20-something department store clerk who also yearns for a more exciting life. One chance encounter unites the two and from then on, a tender romantic relationship blossoms. Carol’s boring husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), whom she’s undergoing a divorce with, soon suspects foul play but that doesn’t stop the two women from developing a close bond that Harge has never even gotten close to developing with Carol. The bulk of the film then follows the two women as they defy social conventions and quite simply, love one another.
Carol is a love story in every sense of the term and just about every aspect of the film is pulled off beautifully. Seasoned movie star Cate Blanchett and young yet highly capable actress Rooney Mara have strong chemistry here. The scenes they share feel real and that is the goal of any film. Authenticity and believability are what make a great film great and we certainly have that here in Carol. A supporting role from Carol’s friend Abby Gerhard (Sarah Paulson) adds more strength to the already strong cast and the crew behind the scenes also contribute a great deal.
Director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There., Far From Heaven) has put together all the pieces in Carol spot on and his camerawork helps tell this bittersweet story terrifically. The story is actually based on author Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, a semi-autobiographical account of lesbianism in the 1950s and the story was so good, that a film adaptation was inevitable. The lighting, set decoration, costumes, and music are just a few of the film’s many sensational features and the story itself is not just about shining a light on lesbianism but it is a tender tale of love during a time when this type of love was frowned upon. Carol is a romantic drama that will leave you wanting more. It is a film that challenges many norms and is a showcase for some truly great acting.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
There is a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers and there is a behind the scenes gallery.