Saturday, January 23, 2016

Carol: Quiet Romance

Carol is a quiet, beautiful movie about two women falling in love in 1950s New York. That's as much detail as I want to give away about the plot, because this is a movie that has little to do with the story and everything to do with the performances.

Cate Blanchett stars as Carol, a woman who is in the midst of a divorce from her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler). It is Christmas time and when she wanders into a department store to buy a present for her daughter, she catches the eye of a beguiling shop girl named Therese (Rooney Mara). What follows is a delicate courtship between the experienced Carol and the naive Therese, who slowly recognizes that she is far more infatuated with this mysterious woman than she has ever been with her besotted boyfriend.

Directed by Todd Haynes with stunning cinematography by Edward Lachman, the movie looks ethereal and wonderful, capturing every glance between the two women and the growing frisson of romantic understanding between the two of them. Adapted by screenwriter Phyllis Nagy from the Patricia Highsmith novel, The Price of Salt, with sumptuous costume design by Sandy Powell and meticulous production design by Judy Becker, this movie steeps you in a delicate yet dangerous world. It takes you on a subtle romantic journey and doesn't need to rely on grand declarations or sweeping statements to convey the tenuous, exciting, and difficult nature of this relationship. It is also a story about embracing one's identity, not just one's sexuality, and acknowledging your dreams and ambitions as you learn to love and accept yourself.

Carol is beautiful, but thankfully not devastating. Instead it is an intriguing portrayal of what it means to quietly and confusedly fall in love when society hasn't clearly explained to you that this kind of love can exist. It reminds you that while the LGBT community has always faced intense stigma and social pressure to conform, one thing has remained true: love is love is love. 

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