Zachary⚡’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film is nothing but great. Great score. Great performances. Great cinematography. Great screenplay. Great directing. I fell in love with both female leads. I understood their pains and their desires. I understood them as characters. I understood why they loved each other. Even the supporting characters I understood. Everything is done astutely.
Therese (Mara) is lost. She is lost and is controlled by the world. No one notices her. Her sense of desolation and loss of identity is captured perfectly on screen. You see her lost in a sea of sameness. People are the same. Everybody is the same. Women work as clerks and buy their children presents and men work as important businessman providing for the family. Controlling the family. These ideas are constant. They never change. No one questions the world they live on. Nothing changes. Everybody wears the same clothes and has a distinct style. Everybody is an archetype. This typical 50s-esque world is portrayed perfectly. Therese wants to escape that world. Carol (Blanchett) is on the verge of divorce. She also wants to escape a world of conformity. Therese and Carol meet and form a bond of love that is absolutely beautiful. I was rooting for these characters. These characters to finally be together. To fight against the norms that have been set and be what they desire most: together. The enchanting score whisked me to the 50s and the lush cinematography in 16mm showed a grainy texture to the film revealing the character's simplicity. It’s beautifully shot and heartwarming at its simplest form while having a sense of grim and seriousness
Now, I typically did not love Todd Haynes' previous film Far From Heaven. I gave it a 7/10. However, Carol has impressed me far more than Far From Heaven. Carol has an emotional engagement or care for the characters that is far more superior to Far From Heaven's subtle and quiet nature.
Carol is a film about two lovers trying to be "lovers" in a time of conformity. One young lover and one old lover: both are trying to learn new things about the world they live in. Both characters being completely different personality-wise reflect off each other in a way. They both are lost in a world of similarity and conformity.
The colors that portrayed in the film are showcased through costumes and sets. The colors blend and suit the 50s perfectly. Very pleasing. Yet very underwhelming. Since this is such a character based movie, I was much underwhelmed that the colors did not represent the characters’ emotions in the film rather to be used as stylistic choice. In the film Far From Heaven, not only were the colors used for stylistic reasons, but also colors were used to represent change to the story and showcase the character’s personality. Very underwhelming yet far from disappointing.
Unlike the colors, the 16mm cinematography is more than just being stylistic. Not only does it capture the essence of simplicity of the 50s through its grainy texture, but also the shots and camera angles that are taken represent many themes such as loss of identity.
Carol is far from just a very well-made profound romance, it incorporates emotions and crisis that the characters feel and translate those ideas into themes and portraying these themes through the technical aspects of the film. It makes the film more personal and more nuanced in its portrayal. As always, Haynes uses costumes and cinematography to tell a story and in this instance a beautiful love story between two women lovers seeking escapism from a world of conformity.