Movie #340 2020: Carol (2015)

Some of this film is set at Christmas, so it’s partially a Christmas film, right? Eh, well. I’m past the point of caring. What’s more surprising is that I – a movie lover and a gay – haven’t seen it before. So let’s see what my delayed viewing brought.

Carol was an absolute phenomenon (at least in the LGBTQ+ community) when it was released, and was nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, so it must be good, right? Starring Cate Blanchett in the title role with Rooney Mara as her on-screen partner, Carol takes us back to 1950s New York. Mara’s Therese works in a large department store, when Blanchett’s Carol asks for assistance with purchasing a train set one day. When Carol accidentally (well, maybe it was accidental) leaves her gloves on the counter, Therese seeks her out to return them. Before you can say ‘1950s lesbians’, the pair of them begin to fall in love, despite Carol being married and Therese having a male romantic partner of her own.

I know the point of Carol is the gay tension, but those colour palettes?! 😍 The pastels and greens are to die for. Edward Lachman (Erin Brockovich, Desperately Seeking Susan) takes the reins as cinematographer, showing everyone exactly why he deserved his Oscar nomination. It’s truly beautiful to look at, and he creates some excellent picturesque frames within so many of the film’s sequences.

Lachman was not the only contributor to this movie that garnered incredibly warranted praise, of course. Cate Blanchett is such a force. Emitting charisma and dynamism through her every pore, she fully commits to this role and gives one of her most convincing performances to date. Rooney Mara is excellent too of course, and it’s clear to see why she received such high praise. Plus, Sarah Paulson and Carrie Brownstein provide support as friends (and ex-lovers) of the main characters. I’m so glad a gay dude (Todd Haynes) directed this because he clearly knows what we want. 

Speaking of gay tension, man, it is palpable. The plot itself is quite dreary, sadly, with the exception of the fifties setting and the themes of forbidden romance which are always interesting to see. 

Though the story itself isn’t overly exciting, the costuming, the set decoration and the score are all exquisite. There are some truly excellent shots to compliment such wonderful visuals that are often paired with incredible depth and texture. In terms of visuals, this is a true testament to good filmmaking, and it’s clear why critics revere it so much.

Again, whilst the plot isn’t particularly original (we’re all very used to the lesbian period drama trope by now), this is so well put together and beautiful to look at that it doesn’t matter so much. As an added bonus, two bloody excellent performances come from the leading ladies.

Worth every minute.

Carol is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: 


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