Jason Pettus’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched as part of the June 2016 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
Task #13: A film where characters write each other letters
I have to admit, although I'm a big fan of the weirder movies Todd Haynes has made over the years, such as Safe, Velvet Goldmine and the notoriously banned Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (which I had the privilege of seeing one late night in the 1990s at a bootleg screening party held by a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago), I just have very little interest in his Douglas-Sirk-homage 1950s domestic dramas like Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce, or his newest, the Oscarbait favorite Carol, social realist dramas that take on racial and gender issues and examine them very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very slowly. But Carol has gotten so much hype in the last year, and it made for a perfect slot in one of the June scavenger hunt challenges, so I decided to bite the bullet and actually watch it; but unfortunately it turned out to be exactly like what I was expecting, yet another slow-as-molasses tearjerker that seems to have only gotten the attention it did because it's about LESBIANS who are LESBIANS at a time when it was BAD to be LESBIANS, and isn't it GREAT that we live in a time NOW when it ISN'T so bad to be a LESBIAN being a LESBIAN? Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!
Now, I don't want to imply that I'm against gay-positive films, because I'm not; take Haynes' own Velvet Goldmine, for example, one of my favorite movies of all time, which addresses fluid sexuality in this playful and complex way that is a true delight to behold. (Seriously, if you've never seen it, add it to your Netflix queue right this minute.) But jeez, Haynes, throw us a bone, will ya, and give us at least one other reason to like Carol besides, "It's like if Douglas Sirk had been allowed to hire Audrey Hepburn and make a movie about LEEESSSSBBBIIIAAAANNNNSSSS!!!!!" I agree, it's great that we live in an age where people of all orientations have a chance to simply live their lives without a drunken Kyle Chandler getting to take their kids away from them; but being a supporter of gay rights shouldn't have to mean automatically loving a weakly written script with bad second-act problems, and it's a real shame that it's these kinds of movies that get Haynes all the attention, and not the much more brilliant bizarro films that are peppered throughout his oeuvre.