Brian Formo’s review published on Letterboxd:
Two new thoughts:
1. I’ve seen Carol multiple times now but I’d never registered the pan to the backseat when the road trip starts and Therese asks if Carol feels safe with her and then asks more pointedly, “I mean, you’d tell me if something scared you and there was something I could do to help?” Carol, steady hand on the wheel, and without eye contact, responds, “I’m not frightened Therese” and the camera pans to the backseat window. To open the film, after this moment and after the road trip, we see Therese seated in the backseat of a Taxi pressed against the window and looking out in sadness, being whisked away to some party by a male friend she shares nothing in common with but past company (she's "alone in a crowd"). Therese is moved about by people throughout the movie and that pan to an empty backseat shows us the moment she grants herself the ability to be direct to embark on her journey to ask what she needs to ask to actualize herself. It’s good being in the front seat, your vantage point is wider and you move ahead together, as one. Arriving at the hotel, after, she next asks for the Presidential Suite. She’s taking the wheel and Carol feels entirely safe and even empowered by the switch.
2. Much like the romance in If Beale Street Could Talk, the ease of their relationship is frequently stalled by their space being so quickly invaded by white men who see every setting as their space to enter.
Carol’s “you think you can handle a redhead?” always tickles me. A forever line in a forever movie. And the ending glance makes me weep every time. The perfect awareness of timing, the stretch of a smile without it being too much: hidden to her company but wholly recognizable by Therese and the audience. End scene. Bliss.
(I rewatched this this morning before writing my vows, to get in the right head space.)