Anthony Le’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I don't know what I want. How could I know what I want if I say yes to everything?"
Carol, directed by Todd Haynes, is the type of film that reminds me of why I fell in love with cinema.
Masterpiece is the first term that comes to mind when describing Carol. Yet, there is something more to Carol than just being masterful. Evocative, beautiful, stunning, mesmerizing, hypnotic: only with words like those, can you give Carol the proper depth of assessment and recognition it deserves. There's little in the way of innovation in Hayne's masterpiece, but when such a simplistic story is told so magnificently, it doesn't matter. Carol exists to prove, and remind us, of the fascinating ways in which a single story can be told.
" I miss you... I miss you..."
Forbidden love isn't a subject that's been scarcely told in cinema. With multiple adaptions of Romeo and Juliet, and countless derivatives of Shakespeare's famed play, there hasn't been a film made quite as riveting and engaging as Carol. What can definitely be categorized as a slow-burn film, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara give the best performances of their careers - which, in my opinion, deserve serious award recognition. But if you look at 2015, there have been so many other films that have starred magnificent performances - Heaven Knows What, Creed, Straight Outta Compton, just to name a few. But what separates Carol from the bunch, and more importantly, what separates it from other films that tell a similar story?
"If you leave it, we go to court, and if we go to court, it'll get ugly. And we're not ugly people."
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that Carol reminded me of why I fell in love with cinema. Similar to others, I'm sure there's a starting point for many people attempting to shift into "good" cinema, and for a 13 year old me, it was going through Oscar Winners, and nominees. Films like Atonement, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Pianist, The Aviator - all Best Picture nominees, which achieve slightly, what you feel in Carol. Yes, there's a formula for period pieces, which derives all the good ones to feeling quite similar to each other. And yes, Carol falls into the same category. But, it does it even better than any of the films I listed above. Carol is spectacular - a film willing and able to completely suck me into the 1950's, and convince me to be invested in two characters, which I don't necessarily I have anything in common with.
"You need lipstick."
Even more than its masterful technicalities, Carol is insanely good on an emotional scale. You can talk about the dialogue and cinematography all you want, but the heart of the film lies within its two protagonists, and is dependent completely on the audience's investment in the characters that Haynes creates. Haynes does this by cleverly portraying characters which are polar opposites - Mara portraying a young, naive girls and Blanchett portraying a strong, independent woman. But, as the film progresses, we see these character traits break down, as the two characters personalities interweave with each others - something that isn't attempted in any other film I've seen thus far. It's a testament to the human mind and human emotion in its portrayal of shifting qualities - an individual is only as strong as their breaking point, and as we see on this incredibly engaging story of self-discovery, even the strongest of character will break. The importance of character development, too, is amplified in Carol due to its simplistic premise. With a story which doesn't feature and twists or turns, it's essential to have characters that you can care about.
"You practically want to say goodbye, because of a silly crush?"
Intentionally or not, Haynes has crafted a film which offers no fast paced action or explosions to further its cause. Instead, it's the complete opposite - Carol is a film which presents you with an idea, and lets that idea sit in your mind and settle. Assisted greatly by magnificent performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as well as the supporting cast, Carol has rightfully claimed its spot as my favourite film of the year. There's few films that are able to create an atmosphere as well as this one, and further, there's even fewer films able to absorb the viewer as much. This is a film that is able to receive award recognition, should, and will. Carol, like I've said countless times already, has reminded me of why I love cinema.