Carol ★★★★½

The pristine beauty of Carol, brilliantly shot on 16mm film, gives off the impression of a fading memory, as if the entire film were an extended flashback. This, more than any other technical aspect of the film (though the costume design is especially brilliant), sets the scene of a 1950s New York City. Its period setting is not bludgeoning (like American Hustle) but careful, wistful, elegantly bathing the scene in a warm glow. Much of what we see is shot obliquely, as if we are intruding on others' private affairs. When the action of a shot occurs within a tiny sliver of the screen, our eyes are captivated by the brilliance of the little that we see, be it a headband, a coat, or the opening of a door. We almost feel embarrassed to be eavesdropping on the affairs of Carol and Therese, or Abby and Therese, or Carol and Harge. But when we are allowed access to the goings-on, it is in ecstatic detail, the emotional pull of the beautiful cinematography, the understatedly talented acting, and the outstanding editing showing us why we should care about this relationship. Carol certainly does not seek to capture every relationship, any gay relationship, or any difficult relationship. It seeks to capture the feeling of love that Carol and Therese shared, and that it does excellently. Calling it the greatest romance since Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love and 2046 might be no exaggeration.