Set in 1950’s New York, Therese Belivet is working as a shop girl when a chance encounter with an older woman by the name of Carol Aird changes her life forever.
While Todd Haynes and Phyllis Nagy strayed from Patricia Highsmith’s original source material, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett take it in stride and deliver seemingly effortless and almost flawless performances.
The two hour film follows Rooney’s Therese as she falls in love With Cate’s Carol and gives more depth to their lives compared to the original novel.
The film in all honesty is one of the best lgbt movie’s in recent years and one of the best romances in recent years. The film could easily be classified as just a romance as it doesn’t politicize the illegal lesbian love they shared.
Unlike “Brokeback Mountain” (the other most famous gay movie in recent years) the film doesn’t center on homosexuality. In “Carol”, the only time homosexuality is referenced is during one conversation with Therese and is hinted at in scenes with Carol’s lawyer. The word “homosexual” doesn’t even pop up in the movie.
The stances on homosexuality in both films and the times the movies take place are very different. “Carol” is set in the 1950’s, where being gay was illegal and considered immoral and a disease, compared to “Brokeback Mountain’s” 1960’s setting, where the laws aren’t as harsh, but the rural backdrop makes it very homophobic.
“Brokeback Mountain” quite frankly shouldn’t be considered the face of gay cinema. The entire movie is spent with two characters who hate themselves and want nothing more than to change who they are and fit it. This is not only horrible representation, but sets a bad example to confused and questioning individuals.
“Carol” on the other hand, doesn’t have it’s protagonists hating themselves and wanting to change. While Therese is confused and lost, she never once wishes she didn’t have feelings for Carol. Carol has accepted that she’s a lesbian and even defies her ex-husbands wishes and declares that she will stay with Therese.
Never once do they want to change, they only wish they were together and that things were different so they could be together.
Even in the way they depict the sex is different. In “Brokeback Mountain” the sex is rough and looks painful. (which is not how gay sex really is) “Carol” has soft and loving sex scene.
This is not only excellent representation, but it’s a good example of how lgbt people should be, not in denial, but in acceptance of who they are, human.