HOLLYWOOD—Watching the movie “Carol” can cause a load of emotions to emerge in the spectator. What appears to be a love story between two people is a bit more layered than one would suspect. The drama which stars Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara, is a tale of forbidden love that deals with many of the pressures of society.
Mara portrays Therese Belivet, a department store clerk whose world is completely upended when she lays eyes on Carol Aird (Blanchett). Carol is not just any woman; she is captivating, she is gorgeous, she is charismatic and someone other women want to be and men want to be with. However, how things appear on the outside, is just a cover for what Carol is grappling with on the inside. She is trapped in a marriage where she is not happy, especially with a husband like Harge (Kyle Chandler). It’s a role that allows Chandler to showcase a bit of villainy; he’s not a nice guy and wields his power to get what he wants from his wife or those close to her.
That chance meeting between Carol and Therese later becomes an infatuation for the two women. Mara breeds a level of uncertainty, coyness and intrigue to a character that is doing her best to discover who she truly is in the world. That opening scene in the movie is a testament to that, as she covers with a pal who spots her form a distance. As the tale progresses we see her boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacey) do his best to convince Therese that he is the guy for her, yet her burgeoning relationship with Carol proves otherwise.
“Carol” is a flick about love, tolerance, and having the courage to go after what matters most even when the result can be dreadful. Another important theme recurring throughout the movie is the issue of divorce. Many people examine the issue of divorce on the children, but here we get to see how complicated the matter is for both Carol and Harge. One desperate to get out of the marriage, the other fighting to find a way to keep his marriage intact while knowing that his wife will never truly love him the same way she loves a woman.
Director Todd Haynes does a mesmerizing job of crafting the scenery of the 1950s, placing the viewer directly into this time period that had such a level of elegance, prime and proper etiquette and the taboo subject of gay or lesbian relationships.
This is something that was hush, hush back in the today compared to where things stand in the present. This explains the level of pressure that both Carol and Therese encounter with having to not fully express how they feel to one another in the public space of others. The viewer only gets to see that intimacy when the ladies are alone, and when it finally happens it’s quite beautiful to say the least. The narrative builds up to this climatic moment, which satisfies the viewer in my opinion.
When it comes to acting, nothing can compare to what Blanchett delivers; this woman does subtle in ways that are unimaginable. She commands the screen without even trying. That scene where she makes the ultimate sacrifice in the quest for love will indeed break the viewer’s heart. I think it’s a complete travesty that Mara was relegated to the Supporting Actress category. She shares just as much if not more time on the screen time as Blanchett. I mean we can indeed have two women from the same film vying for the prize of Best Actress, especially when the performances are so layered and versatile thanks to phenomenal acting by both ladies.
Watching “Carol” made me feel as if I was front and center of all the madness, sadness and heartache that love can deliver. Love is a beautiful thing, but “Carol” just proves when it comes to love all bets are off and worse than all sometimes sacrifice is the ultimate test to prove how much one truly cares.