I knew this was based on a Patricia Highsmith story, but when I saw the opening scene I thought “oh no, is this a remake of Brief Encounter?” Fortunately it goes in a different direction pretty quickly, and while Brief Encounter may have a perfect ending for the 1940’s, Carol has the perfect ending for right now.
Carol (Cate Blanchett) is the interesting rich lady who makes eyes at young department store cashier Therese (Rooney Mara) one Christmas shopping season, and eventually they’re in love, vacationing across the country, not realizing they’re being pursued by private investigators hired by Carol’s husband Kyle Chandler. Not much to say about the movie, plot-wise, since it’s all about perfectly chosen moments and a beautiful visual atmosphere.
F. Zaman in Reverse Shot:
It doesn’t engage with questions of why or how its protagonists are gay, or create simplistic dynamics between homophobic villains and damaged queer heroes. It lets the characters just be, as they are, a defiant act of passive resistance against the assumption that queerness needs to be justified – and that it is the primary quality of the queer person. Just as Haynes is reinvigorating the melodrama genre in films like Carol, Far from Heaven, and even Velvet Goldmine, he is also reframing history to include others — people of color, counterculture figures, queers — in a meaningful way. Carol is also full of visceral pleasures, capturing subjective but universal experiences, like the way the world seems to blur when that certain someone touches your wrist for first time.