Carol ★★★★½

This movie really gets me. When I watched this in my younger years, I thought the tragedy of it came from the fact that Carol and Therese have to be apart and suffer from the heartbreak that comes with that. Now, it’s plain to see that the tragedy really results from the fact that, in the oppressive social climate of the 50s, Carol can never be her full self—she’ll always have to choose between two lives. For a while she tries to be the perfect housewife and mother, so she loses her first love, Abby. Then she begins to suffocate in the homemaker role, so she turns to Therese, and their love story begins. And ultimately, she chooses a life with Therese over a traditional life. She loses her daughter, and that’s so awful. Normally in movies, women like Carol—suave, attractive lesbians who are “on the prowl” for innocent young women—are framed as larger than life and above human feelings. Towards the beginning, it seems like Carol is going to fit into this archetype, and Therese sees her in this way. But as we get deeper into the film and we see her struggle with divorce and separation from her daughter ,Carol becomes more and more human, and we see the cracks in her facade. She’s incredibly lonely. Cate Blanchett is wonderful, and she walks the line between effortless and painful so carefully, especially in the scene where Carol and Therese reunite for lunch. Carol is an excellent study in character, and it tells a beautiful story. It’s probably my favorite Christmas movie.