Movie Reviews

Carol Review: Lush Emotional Melodrama

Movie Review: Carol

As Hollywood gets hammered with issues about diversity and equality, some fat cats are taking advantage of the situation for profit and prestige. As expected, Weinstein wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to adapt one of the most popular lesbian books especially when it has the potential to add more trophies on his rack.

Cynicism aside and fairness in consideration, Carol delivers an Oscar-worthy lesbian romance that makes you temporarily forget the tropes in LGBT movies. 

The trailer already gives us a glimpse of a period-accurate picture, thanks to a Super 16mm with a muted color palette and detailed production design.

The cinematography (Edward Lachman) and film direction (Todd Haynes) are used purposefully to establish the theme of longing and loneliness while also capturing and conveying the nuances of a developing attraction between two women.

The camerawork is expertly used to communicate thoughts hidden in plain sight and highlights subtleties exchanged between them. In one scene, the camera frames Carol and Therese as they talk over a purchase in a department store, each giving a hint of more than just casual glances.

The well-written script (Phyllis Nagy) provides plenty of moments such as this that provides us clues to Carol’s hidden life and Therese’ self-discovery. This turns Carol into a visually well-executed movie with an intelligent and engaging chronology of two characters ahead of their time.

Performances, as expected from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are superb.

Carol is cunningly forward but thanks to Blanchett’s performance you can see that these slightly predatory advances are from a woman who has been kept from her desires, making her character sympathetic. Therese is guarded but unafraid of following her feelings, portrayed deftly by Rooney Mara who resembles an innocent Audrey Hepburn.

The rest of the cast, including Kyle Chandler and Sara Paulson, are great in providing a construct for the couple’s lives and obligations.

As much there is plenty to appreciate about the technical prowess of this movie, Carol’s love story leaves much to be desired.

The movie offers little of the romantic spark between two women. The audience will see two people trying to start a romantic relationship, rather than watch a love story unfold. It doesn’t help that Blanchett and Mara don’t have chemistry. You’ may find yourself looking more at the scenery rather than the people in it.

Still, there are plenty of moments to admire in Carol. It shows two women from different backgrounds yet similar positions in life. Their experience may differ but both long to be true to themselves. It’s able to portray a love that cannot be said, only hinted at, and understood without a word.  

Overall Carol is a beautiful adaptation. It’s an obvious Oscar vehicle for Cate Blanchett and its awards strategist producer, but it can’t also be denied that it is a well-made movie. 



Carol effectively conveys the unspoken language of attraction and love with deft direction, purposeful cinematography, detailed production design, and great performances.

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