I saw the trailer of Carol months before the actual date of the film release. It was one of the few times I waited for a movie’s opening night with such anticipation. The week it came out, I was there in a dimly lit theater, midweek matinee, seated solo and filled with guilty indulgence. As two hours zoomed by I was fully enthralled by the film’s sensual pace, its enchanting elegant aesthetic. Set in the 1950’s is a story of a scandalous unconventional love between Therese Belivet, a young and beautiful clerk at the children’s toy department, and Carol Aird, a wealthy suburban wife. As the story unfolds, set to the lush Christmas backdrop and evasive sense of melancholy, we cannot help but fall in love with Therese (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett) duo.
Carol is a study in human magnetism and attraction. She, like the amateur photographs of Therese in black and white, is quiet, poised but intriguing. Postwar glamour of Carol- her bold color scarfs, pillow hats and full length fur coats – is contrasted to the coolness and wisdom of her face, its secret suffering. Carol is weighted down by compromise, marriage and societal obligations and, perhaps, it is her mysterious allure of experience and calm sophistication that draws Therese to her like a moth to a flame. Therese is “flung from space” with wide open eyes and hungry eagerness for self-discovery. Self-possession conquers timidness and boldness overtakes vulnerability as Therese, step by step, discovers her passions and true identity. Roles are set, reversed and tested to highlight the complicated game of predator and pray, the conqueror and the conquered.
Raw emotions abound and are set to expressive images by Edward Lachman. Costume design by the Academy Award-winning costume designer Sandy Powell plays a central role in helping tell each woman’s story through a series of mesmerhising, period-specific costumes. The cinematography and costume are pure magic in Carol. You feel the textures come to life as though you can run your hand through Carol’s fur coat and feel the coldness of the piano keys as Therese plays Billie Holiday. Carol is cool and elusive while Therese pulsates with childlike wonder. The concoction of emotions comes to a breaking point as love comes face to face with the realities of 1950’s moral framework, characters’ past and nagging expectations. The final scenes leave you breathless. It’s been days since I saw the film and I am still swooning over the poetic portrayal of two women in love and the cinematography that radiates enigmatic beauty.
Please watch the trailer and enjoy the film if it is playing near you. I promise it is worth it.