‘Carol’ is a story about two women who fall in love in the ’50s. This is not a shocking thing these days (okay, it is STILL not accepted in many countries in the world, including my own country), but the story takes place at a time when homosexuality was equated to hysteria. The treatment for the ‘disease’ was electric shocks! These women fall in love during such a time and the film explores the tension. It is based on the book ‘The Price of Salt’ by Patricia Highsmith.
The most interesting thing about the movie is the casting. I have seen a few interviews of Cate Blanchett and she seems to be an extrovert who always lights up the room. Rooney Mara, on the other hand, is complete opposite! She HARDLY smiles! I mean, to not smile in an age where fake smiles are like a staple diet for most people in show business, is a rare achievement. And if you look at Rooney’s interviews, she always struggles to express herself. You will notice that she takes a little more time than other celebs to communicate (I am fascinated by Rooney, but this post is not about her, so…). In ‘Carol’ too, the characters, Cate’s Carol and Rooney’s Therese are similar to their real life personas. Therese is a loner who doesn’t quite fit into the society. Carol is vivacious, glamorous, but she also struggles to fit into conventional marriage. Another fascinating thing about the movie is that the characters are not from the same social class. Therese is a shop girl and an aspiring photographer and Carol is financially well-off. Therese is in her early 20’s (I think) and Carol is in her thirties and has a daughter.
What I loved about the movie was the silences. The process of falling in love is shown through their eyes, not words. We don’t know what ‘clicked’ between the two. We don’t know much about their likes and dislikes. We don’t know what they like about each other. But their eyes speak a lot. Cate and Rooney have done a fabulous job because it is not easy to do this.
The movie is seen primarily as a homosexual story and it is. But there are so many other things. I also saw this movie from an introvert’s point of view. There is a scene in the movie where Therese tries to forget Carol and goes to a party. She tries to fit in with her group of ‘friends.’ But she just can’t. Carol is not in the scene but she is, in a way, present. Because Therese is with Carol.
The film is made with a lot of compassion. I couldn’t help but compare it with ‘Blue is the Warmest Color‘ (Click) because both the movies are directed by men (and I haven’t really seen a lot of LGBT cinema so I keep comparing these few movies). In ‘Blue…’ as I wrote in my post, I felt that the director was sort of objectifying women in few scenes. But in ‘Carol’, the director has handled the subject with a lot of respect and love.
‘Carol’ is not a flawless film, but it is devastatingly beautiful.