Carol (2015)


Cast includes: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty), Sarah Paulson (Mud)
Director: Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven)
Genre: Drama (118 minutes) Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith

Huffington Post

Jake regularly stops for drinks with colleagues after work. The year is 1951, and the after-hours scene in New York looks like a spread in a sophisticated fashion magazine. Looking across the room, Carol Aird easily stands out in a crowd. “Therese, Is that you?” Jake says to the woman sitting with Carol. “Are you going to Phil’s party?” “You two go ahead,” says Carol… she has plans of her own. As the passing city sites are reflected in the taxi window, Therese can’t help remembering when she first met Carol. It was the day Frankenberg’s passed out Santa hats to the shop girls. The beige gloves and red nails don’t look like they belong to the typical toy department customer. It’s Carol, looking for the Betsy doll for her daughter. But they’re sold out. Therese’s recommendation of a train set instead seems unusual, but Carol likes the idea. She leaves her shipping address, and the transaction is over… until Therese sees that Carol has forgotten her gloves.

After work, Therese’s friend has brought the camera… Richard wonders why she’s so excited about a “crappy camera.” (Therese should be excited about planning their trip to Europe, but she can’t seem to commit.) At the Aird home in New Jersey, Harge is still pressuring Carol… “Janette asked about you. I’d like you to be there.” Carol just can’t… Harge is convinced it’s about Abby. “Abby and I were over long before you and I were over.” As a thank you for sending back the gloves, Carol wants to take Therese to lunch. Over creamed spinach and poached egg, the two women compare the men in their lives… Carol is divorcing Harge and Therese can’t decide if she should marry Richard. The following Sunday, Therese comes out to Carol’s for lunch and tree decorating. It ends badly when Harge unexpectedly returns and uses the presence of the “shop girl” to restart an argument about the divorce. Is this what Therese has to look forward to if she marries Richard?

The friendship between Therese and Carol gets off to a rocky start. Despite the obstacles, however, the two are drawn to each other. The older, more sophisticated Carol takes the lead, while Therese follows… without a clear understanding of where it may be going. In this beautiful and elegant period drama, we are constantly reminded how different things were in the 1950s… it’s not just about divorce, custody battles and morality clauses. The social pressures for attractive women to pair up with men can make daily life a constant challenge. Based on a book by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley), the story is told in implications and nuance, almost as much as actual dialog and plot. As in the Ripley series, Highsmith is a master of the dangerous undercurrent. Even though no one dies, Carol is a rich tapestry of uncomfortable yet consequential threads. Even though Carol and Abby have been “over” for a long time, they have remained friends. And Abby still worries about Carol… “Tell me you know what you’re doing.” “I don’t,” says Carol. “I never did.”

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

In post-WWII America, there’s no roadmap for a woman attracted to another woman

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Sexual Content)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Sensitive 
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: High-End Production
Nutshell: Challenges of lesbian relationships in post-WWII America
Language: Artful
Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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