Simply put, Carol is a work of art. Of course all films are a form of art, but Carol is like a moving painting. You could take any frame from this film and hang it in an art gallery. Carol is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, and follows young aspiring photographer Therese in her love affair with an older woman going through a messy divorce. Set in the early 1950’s, this is a slow-burn tale of forbidden romance.
One of Carols greatest strengths is that its story is driven by the characters. It never feels like it’s focused on simply telling a story, it could be a situation happening to real people. The main focus is on Therese, whose relationship with and feelings for Carol come as a complete shock to her. To begin with, she is due to head to Europe with her sort-of boyfriend, but when she falls in love with Carol, she has to confront her own sexuality. Many people often forget that the first person any queer people come out to is themselves, and it isn’t always easy… Carol displays this dilemma brilliantly, and sets up an ending that will make you genuinely happy for her. Meanwhile Carol herself may be the best performance of Cate Blanchett’s entire career. Her portrayal of an older lesbian who has grown unwillingly accustomed to society’s heteronormativity is sublime. Something I only picked up on in subsequent viewings was the use of smoking to further display her emotions. Whenever she is upset or anxious, she immediately lights up, but whenever she’s with Therese she doesn’t. On their roadtrip there isn’t a single cigarette in sight, showing just how comfortable they are in each others company. In a society where their love is frowned upon it’s, truly heartwarming to see.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world this is still the case. Many countries will still execute you for being gay and in many places being gay is still considered a crime. In the United Kingdom homosexuality was still illegal until the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. That’s just over 50 years ago, not even two generations. As a country we are getting better, but there is still a long way to go before being gay is seen as normal. Films like Carol are playing a massive role in normalising something that has for years been seen as abnormal, and having an A-List star like Cate Blanchett, I think, helps people treat this as a proper film instead of just an independent one. It has been nearly five years since Carol was released and as massive as it was at the time, it seems to have faded into obscurity. Perhaps it hasn’t within the LGBT community, but to the general public it isn’t being remembered as it should be. Carol is a classic and I think its about time we treated it that way.
Until Next Time…