[Movie Review] Carol

Carol is a cinematic masterpiece

There are not many lesbian films out there that sees its main characters with a happy ending. Carol not only took the risk in creating something so original and masterful, the product of a plunge is a gleaming reflection of love, acceptance and desire. Everything in this movie is beautifully-made, and emotionally accurate.


Director Todd Haynes brings us back to the beautiful 1950s, an era where gays and lesbians are considered freaks and sinners. Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, Carol focuses on two women, Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara) and their love story of romance, desire and nonconformity. 

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Carol(R21 – Homosexual Theme)

Language: English
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler
Duration: 119 mins

Rating: 5/5

One of the striking elements in this production is the gorgeous production values – from the fur coats on Carol to the placing of the off-white vintage suitcases, the mise en scène in this film is nothing short of brilliant.

Cinematographer Edward Lachman who recently picked up honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics for this film, gives Carol a certain filter of grace and elegance. The entire film looks like an Instagram-filtered screenplay that adds a certain cinematic language to the overall visual expression.

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Blanchett’s performance in the movie is so stunning it’s practically faultless. Having won the Best Actress award at last year’s Oscars for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Blanchett, with this picture, once again reconfirms her status of one of Hollywood’s (modern cinema for that matter) top-notch actresses that bring to life a screenplay in unimaginable ways. The nuances from this trained actress is breathtaking; she expresses the role of a wife and mother, but one who yearns sexual desire for a woman with a balanced emphasis of sly seduction and composed elegance. 

 

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For Mara, it’s her eyes and gaze that tells the story. There is a remarkable delicateness in her portrait-like pose, but yet her stare dominates the emotions she feels for. Therese never really goes beyond being loud and expressive, but Mara’s controlled facial cues gives audience a reminder of her internal emotional turmoil and the need for love and acceptance – just like any other normal being.

When these two actresses are in the same frame, there’s a dynamic spark that overflows. It’s one of those rare times where you sense a great overpowering emotion between the two ladies – their eyes ‘converse’ with each other. 

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Perhaps it’s because of Blanchett’s domineering character that she somehow steals the limelight from Mara. Whenever she appears on screen, you just can’t seem to take your eyes off her, wanting to observe her every move – a kind on unspoken attractiveness that it’s so alluring and terrorising at the same time.


Yes, they do make love in this movie, but this reviewer personally feels that it shouldn’t be a highlight of the film. Like a line that Therese tells her ex-boyfriend ‘I mean two people who just… fall in love. With each other.’, it’s a natural progression for two people to display their affection for each other with a sense of touch and physical longing. And Haynes does it exactly like it is – he doesn’t exploit the homosexual aspect, nor does he turn it to an expected tragedy. Instead, he tickles the aspect of forbidden love with weighed characterisation and the use of intended pauses and stillness in the dialogues. 

 

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Carol is more than a period love drama, nor is it just a lesbian love story. It is a cinematic masterpiece piled with superb art direction and a powerful script performed by two Oscar-worthy actresses. 

 

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