Carol ★★★★★

Haynes's skill as a filmmaker is in its fullest expression in MILDRED PIERCE and here, where he does everything that he did in PIERCE's five and a half hour runttime and does it in less than two. It never quite achieves the scathing Fassbinderean distanciation that PIERCE does, instead replacing it with a Sirkean humanism––but, more importantly for Haynes as a filmmaker, it peacefully integrates the queer arm's length view of human bodies and sexuality that he practiced in his more experimental work with the heartful family melodrama that he so ardently loves. The strange undercutting of Carol and Therese's relationship by the incestuous and MILF (literally) overtones never prevents Haynes from tenderly coaxing a genuine romance from the scenario and in this way he approaches the true masters of all artforms who at their best managed to explore without editorializing (Shakespeare, John Ford, etc.) –– a modernism that modernism forgets.

At the same time I fell more in love with the film than I'd ever been before. The visuals, which I once saw negatively as mannered, now move me with their texture, movement, light. Dirty, filthy windows fill the film and echo off reflections into dense but naturalistic compositions that help bolster the actors' certainly mannered, certainly sculpted performances.

A professor of mine once remarked of the film that it almost made him want to have a meaningful romantic relationship.