I don’t really know how I feel about the film Carol. Being a pan sexual women, I thought I would have had this deep connection with the film but sadly, I found myself having little emotional reaction to it. What I do know is that I am boarder-line obsessed with Cate Blanchett and she was could not have been more stunning or have done a better job acting in this film. She is absolutely breath taking.
A little background of the film:
This film is set in New York in the 1950s around Christmas time. Carol Aird (played by Blanchett) is a wealthy, divorced mother of a beautiful little girl, Rindy. Carol is divorced from her husband because she is a lesbian and could no long live a lie with her ex. Since it is Christmas, of course Carol must buy the best gift for her daughter. She is at a high end toy store when they catch eyes. Therese Belivet (played by Ronney Mara) is a young woman lost within the world. This moment where they first see each other is beautiful. You can tell they are greatly attracted to one another. From this point on, they create a close friendship which eventually turns into love. Carol’s ex is determined to come after her because she refuses to be with him so he fights for full custody due to a “morality clause” meaning “I’m pissed at my wife for not choosing me so I’m going to hit her where it hurts.” Throughout this battle, Carol does everything she can to get her daughter back but eventually realizes that she shouldn’t have to live a lie and gives this jaw dropping monologue to her husband. By favorite part is when she says “this is going to get ugly, and we are not ugly people.” You are right Blanchett, you most definitely are not ugly.
Having this epiphany of wanting to live a life being her true self, she pursues Therese one last time because their love is undeniable. The ending of the film is the two simply looking at each other but the moment is absolute fire.
Reflecting on the film, I am asking the questions: What is this film saying about queer lives and how is it saying it?
In reading New queer cinema and lesbian films, by Pick it is stated “what is at stake for lesbians is not just heterosexuality but the ‘hegemony of the male narrative’, heterosexual and homosexual alike” (p. 105). Guess who directed Carol. That’s right, a man. Is he able to accurately portray lesbian experience and do it justice? I’m not so sure. I think Director Haynes should have dove deeper into the emotions of what it would be really like to be an American lesbian in the 1950s because this could just be my perception but I feel like that Haynes did not go far enough. Another male writer stated in The object of desire: Todd Haynes discusses Carol and the satisfactions of telling women’s stories, “elegant but thorny, Carol is the work of a director who had thought through every angle of his material” (2015). The only thing I agree with that statement was how the film was described elegant but thorny. I do not think Haynes thought through every angle of the film. Yes there is raw emotional moments but inaccuracies with be prevalent when a director is telling a story that they do not identify with.
More comments about the film from men included calling the film a love story that can be universally connected to (White, 2015). The point of the movie was not to give a universal connection. The point was to tall a mid-century lesbian experience and calling the film universal takes away from that experience and the films purpose.
Bottom line, there is not denying that the film is incredibly beautiful with amazing acting. What fell short for me what the fact that the story was being told by a male which lead me to think that the story was not being told accurately. The lesbian and queer story is not honored and can become lost when the stories are being told be people who do not own those stories. Thank god Blanchett was there to save the day.
Haynes, T. (Director). 2015. Carol. United States: Weinstein Company.
Davis, N. 2015. The object of desire: Todd Haynes discusses Carol and the satisfactions of telling women’s stories. Web. Film Comment.
Pick, A. 2004. New queer cinema: New queer cinema and lesbian films. p. 103-118. Edinburgh University Press.
White, P. 2015. A lesbian “Carol” for Christmas. Web. Public Books.