Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
“It’s not your fault.”
There’s a general understanding that queer love has a history of hiding in the spaces between society’s rules and expected social mores. Carol is not only a love story between two women: it's a tale of people discovering, living, suffering and attempting to thrive in those spaces.
The story gripped me with tension over what would happen next to Carol and Therese as they grew closer and closer. The camera often frames character interactions by cutting off or enclosing the actors within the set; it creates an increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere that belies the lush pastel colors and luxurious patterns of the '50s costumes.
The real magic that Todd Haynes creates is the balance between seduction and paranoia. Despite deep relating to the anxiety of queer existence in the 1950s, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the chemistry between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. I longed for their victory in a way that I don’t always feel about romances. Blanchett is a revelation in how she brings Carol Aird to life, a woman who’s lived her life in codes, while Mara’s Therese grows from a passive girl into a woman with an even stronger understanding of herself through her relationship with Carol.
“A quiet revelation” is what comes to mind when I watch Carol. It might be why it was dismissed in the Oscar run last year; this isn’t a starry-eyed, uplifting story for the ages. It's not Titanic. It’s queer people finding each other in the spaces between, where they can finally breathe a little easier.