Why is Carol So Beloved?

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  • Movieguy
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    #212355

    So, I was finally able to get around to watching Carol a couple days ago and found myself completely underwhelmed. I had heard so much hype for this movie, whether it be from the critics, audiences, fans of film, etc and it completely failed to live up to expectations. I hate to use this word to describe the movie, but I found it kinda boring and much too slow. While the acting and the technical aspects were pretty good to great across the board, I felt it didn’t help enough when the film itself seemed quite lifeless. So lovers of the film, I’m asking, what am I missing here? I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m legitamately curious why this film was so beloved. What about did you all fall in love with?

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    OnTheAisle
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    #212357

    When I look back at the movie romances that have changed me, they invariably have couples who emit true passion and whose pathway to happiness is strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Isn’t that always the story of our own private, most treasured love affairs? No one falls in love, readily commits and has a lifetime of unbridled joy. It certainly isn’t that way with Carol and Therese.

    I love the romance in the 1943 Best Picture Casablanca. Ingrid Bergman and her husband are fleeing the Nazis. They do so impeccably dressed and coiffed. They meet Ilsa’s former lover, and she stumbles from her single vision unable to see the road in front of her. How many times I have been distracted by passion to lose sight of what is the best decision for me, for those I love? The great joy in Casablanca is the integrity of the two men who love Ilsa and their ability to understand her dilemma. Don’t we all wish our lives were filled with lovers of such generosity and wisdom?

    I love the romance of 1973 Best Actress nominee Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. Katie is an odd girl. She is too Jewish, poor, and outspoken. The object of her devotion, an Adonis of a man, can see her beauty. Miraculously as he becomes more committed in his passion we see Katie blossom into a striking woman who is inspiring. Don’t we all wish our lives were filled with lovers who only see the best in us and then could bring it out? Sadly, when that does occur, aren’t we heartbroken to find we cannot do the same for our lover?

    I love the romance of 2005 Best Picture nominee Brokeback Mountain. The film takes the most manly of movie genres and turns it inside out with a story of raw emotion. Ennis and Jack are ranch hands who embark on a life long love affair of secrets and assignations. They are bonded by their secret and drawn by their passion. They can’t quit. Don’t we all wish that our life had a lover who was always attractive, who was always attracted and who always filled our hearts with longing?

    Great romantic films are based in passion. It is not surprising that all the films including Carol were nominated or won for their score. Music enhances emotion. Music can take us to another place. 

    Great romantic films are intimate. The details are enhanced. Whether we recall Sam’s solitary drink at the bar where the ring underneath the glass glistens in the light or Katie’s stylish black leather glove brushing back Hubbell’s hair or Ennis and the treasured paid work shirt hanging in his closet, it is that attention to detail that makes the romance real. Director Todd Haynes understands this in Carol. In the first meeting, we get a tight close up of the forgotten or purposefully abandoned fashionable gloves and Carol’s simple gesture to her hair mentioning her admiration of Therese’s hat. That first meeting is lovely in establishing more questions than it answers.

    Great romantic films make the lovers vulnerable. Ilsa cajoles Sam to play it again and we see bitterweet melancholy on her face as the piano begins the familiar tune. Katie brings the drunken Hubbell back to her apartment after a chance meeting. After sex, she whispers and tells Hubbell her name. Ennis recalls the childhood story of a gay man in their community who was beaten to death. The unspoken fear is palpable. For Carol, the moment takes place in a restaurant. Carol is eating dinner with a group of people. Therese appears unexpectedly and stands wordlessly in front of Carol. We feel her question, her commitment, and her resolve. We wait for Carol’s response. Never has the represssion of the 1950s felt so oppressive than in this chic dinner club.

    Carol makes me feel the passion of its lovers and reminds me of my own affairs of the heart. For two hours, I was transported to another time and place where I cared desperately about the fate of these two women.

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    Teridax
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    #212358

    People are afraid of being called homophobic so they convince themselves to like this movie even with its laughably WTF dialogue like “Flung out of Space” and “You’re in a trance,” and hammy and/or bland characters.  LMFAO

    Given time, this could evolve into a so-bad-that-it’s-funny classic, the scene where Cate Blanchett is pointing her gun at that spy sent by her ex-husband alone is “The Room” worthy with its oblivious ludicrousness. The hype will fade, and the only reason people will talk about it, if the scenario I described above does not come to fruition, is that it got a bunch of Oscar noms. It sure as hell is the only reason people still talk about, to quote the great American filmmaker Spike Lee, “Driving Miss Motherf**king Daisy.” 😉

    Even so, the movie is genuinely admirable for its remarkable Cinematography, Production Design, Costumes, and as always brilliant Music Score by the great (Oscar-nominated at last!) Carter Burwell. Let alone its ambtition, which winds up looking more pretentious than anything else, sadly. A “pretentious bore” to quote Goldderby Editor Ralph Galvan, who more or less nailed it in his review.

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    streepfan
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    #212359

    I will even go all the way to say that The two leads are totally miscast (no chemistry, they look more like Aunt/cousin rather than lovers). “And that last scene is the worst acting I’ve seen from Blanchett who was much much better in Cinderella this year.

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    Atypical
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    #212360

    “Carol” is a modern-day masterpiece. If you don’t get that/can’t see that, then too bad for you.

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    benutty
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    #212361

    What makes CAROL a wonderful film is the way that every part of its production serves the central purpose of the story. I disagree with many who say that it’s a lesbian love story. Yes, it’s that in part, but it’s so much more. For me it’s about women–their love for each other, their other-ness in the world, their emotions, their inner beauty and their outer beauty, etc. 

    When you read about Patricia Highsmith and the IRL experience of working at a department store and being so enraptured by a Carol-like woman that inspired her to write The Price of Salt, you understand this to be true about the story. That moment wasn’t about lust or homosexuality for Highsmith, it was about being instantly enamored and obsessed with another woman. Through the film you see the way this is how Therese feels. She begins the story as a timid, frumpy-clothed girl and ends the film having become Carol. The film ends with the two of them meeting each other’s gaze because Therese finally feels equal to Carol. Therese has become the woman that she was wanted to become, but it took loving and witnessing another version of that woman to become her.

    Every part of the production serves this idea. Therese is a photographer. The cinematography frames the women through doorframes and windows, often blurred because this is how unclearly society sees women’s needs and desires. The script is sparse (what you may call boring) because the intent is vision and sight and inner feelings, not the outward expression of speaking. The costumes describe the progress of the women, specifically Therese, as their personalities unravel and take form. The music is calm, melancholic, feminine.

    Take the first scene and its counterpart at the end as examples of the way the film itself shifts from the male perspective to the female perspective. We first see the tea room scene via the male perspective, spotting Therese with Carol from across the room. We see Carol touching Therese’s shoulder as that man sees Carol touch Therese’s shoulder, and like him we lack the context of what Therese’s glance means. At the end of the film we get this same scene from Therese’s perspective and with the context that it is owed. But we only get it because the film has delved into the personal lives of women having stripped away the male gaze.

    Call it boring? It’s slow. It’s meticulous. It’s quiet. Yes, it’s those things. And you call that boring, but you call it boring because you haven’t understood why it must be all of those things and more.

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    sylviablushes
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    #212362

    I was so excited to finally see Carol this year because I love Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (who doesn’t?!) and Todd Haynes films. Everybody knew how excited I was to see it, that’s how much I talked about it, but when I did aound a month ago, I too was completely underwhelmed. In its own right, sure, it’s a mastrpiece of sorts… but I just didn’t feel the magic of the book was translated to the screen without flaw. Perhaps, it was ultimately my own fault for hyping it up so much and then it not being able to live up to my expectations. I couldn’t even add it to my Top Ten films of the year. Either way, I still really, really like Carol, but I also understand where the original poster is coming from. 

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    babypook
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    #212363

    Well, I actively seek out films with Rooney Mara. I like her. She’s good.

    And she’s great here as well. More compelling than the great Cate imo. Her role just might be the more difficult of the two to really flesh out.

    The film is gorgeous overall. Great costuming, great cinematography, and a terrific story of love.

    And far from a commercial one.

    And it’s Todd Haynes. He can add another notanotherbasicfilm to his resume.

    I was surprised it missed for Best Picture. It would have been a worthy contender.

    I’ve had time to get over Mara being in Supporting, but this is an embarassment.

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    taloson
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    #212364

    I think in addition to the intimacy, the silent moments of longing and everything people have articulated here, there is a certain amount of ownership within the gay community for this film. Because it doesn’t judge or cast Carol and Therese in a stereotypical light. It treats them like real people just like anyone else. And I think it’s hard for some straight people to understand the struggle to express love for a person of the same sex in public — and in the ’50s, even in private. I think that’s so perfectly captured in the movie, especially if you really connect to Therese as I did.

    Also, I think the lead-up from their first moments to their big expression of love is so smartly handled. Some people who don’t understand what Haynes is going for will call it “boring.” Just because there’s no big action doesn’t mean there’s not a world of emotion going on between Carol and Therese every time they look at each other.

    It’s no surprise that despite being the highest rated movie of the year on Metacritic, the straight white male academy chose to go for movies they could personally relate to more. It’s the same conversation as the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. People will respond more favorably to what they’re most comfortable with.

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    CanadianFan
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    #212365

    Loving these posts about the film’s virtues.

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    Tyler The Awesome Guy
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    #212367

    That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since the movie came out. I think everybody loves it because it has homosexuals in it.

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    taloson
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    #212368

    Oh for god’s sake, why is it that every time a bunch of people like a movie about a minority group, there’s this dismissive attitude that they only like it because it’s about minorities?  It happened with Brokeback Mountain, Selma, 12 Years a Slave, Straight Outta Compton, etc. A good movie is a good movie.

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    Andrew Carden
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    #212369

    I didn’t find “Carol” quite as exquisite as “Far from Heaven” (one of the best films of the 2000s), but holy moly is Blanchett flat-out fantastic in it. I think it’s by far her finest work to date. Mara’s great too but the scenes without Blanchett just aren’t the same. Another superb script by Haynes, gorgeous cinematography, a moving score…wonderful all-around, even if, as I said, it doesn’t quite reach the same heights as FFH.

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    Teridax
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    #212370

    I will even go all the way to say that The two leads are totally miscast (no chemistry, they look more like Aunt/cousin rather than lovers). “And that last scene is the worst acting I’ve seen from Blanchett who was much much better in Cinderella this year.

    Absolutely right! 🙂

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    Teridax
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    #212371

    Oh for god’s sake, why is it that every time a bunch of people like a movie about a minority group, there’s this dismissive attitude that they only like it because it’s about minorities?  It happened with Brokeback Mountain, Selma, 12 Years a Slave, Straight Outta Compton, etc. A good movie is a good movie.

    But 12 Years A Slave was a MASTERPIECE! And Straight Outta Compton was a great movie that got genuinely robbed of a BP nomination. Selma however, was an amateurishly-directed dissapointment, in my personal opinion. I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain yet, but really want to. Carol was….. Like I said above, either it will evolve into a future “so-bad-that-it’s-funny” classic, with even the laughably atrocious lines to help it become one!

    OR it will be completely forgotten by our cinema culture, only remembered for the fact it got a bunch of Oscar nominations, just like how that’s the only reason people still talk about BP WINNER The Hurt Locker! 😉

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