Joel Rackel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Contains some of the purest, best directed moments of cinema all year. Such as, the way Haynes directs the viewer's eye to Carol’s hand on Therese’s shoulder, or makes Therese’s friend visible in the background, approaching like impending doom. Or, Carol and Therese’s initial meeting, which is sublime, as they spot each other across the shop floor.
However, you really have to buy into their relationship at that moment. The movie sort of hinges on love at first sight. It’s got other things on its mind (emptiness of consumerism/American dream, the sexual repression of the 1950s, identity as constricting social construct), but Carol is on some level a romance. Yet, it’s not very romantic.
I’m afraid I never fully bought Therese and Carol as rapturously in love… Maybe it’s the age difference, or the dissonance of Blanchett’s theatricality and Mara’s mumbly performance. Obviously, the film can’t be too romantic. It was impossible to have an open relationship in the ‘50s, so Therese and Carol have to be very careful. Carol is about the tiny ways love is expressed in a repressed society. I just wish the couple’s love could’ve roped me in a bit more, even as they are being so modest.
I might be asking for an impossibility, but it kept me from loving Carol. Put me down in the quiet admiration and respect category.