Carol ★★★★★

—I took what you gave willingly.

Yep, this is still one of the greatest films of all time. Rewatching Carol a little bit older and a little bit wiser opens a whole lot of new perspectives. The two women are completely aware of each other’s actions from the very beginning of the film (I’m like 99% sure Carol left those gloves behind on purpose), and what proceeds is an elegant but cautious game of seduction between them. There’s a giant elephant tagging along the entire time so when they finally act on their feelings in Waterloo, it doesn’t seem like they’re "giving in” to their desires as much as it feels like a mutual understanding between them that this was unquestionably going to happen at some point during their road trip. So that scene is cathartic.

Another thing I realized is how Therese is very much the ringleader between the two, or at the very least, she gives gives Carol the same pull she receives. At a first glance, it may feel like Carol is the one doing all of the pursuing. She leaves the gloves behind and then invites her to dinner, to her home and later to a road trip. But after Therese witnesses Harge and Carol’s discussion the tables kind of turn as she begins to agree to everything Carol suggests because she wants to see the suppressed 50’s socialite housewife take control of her own life. Carol gives Therese experience, yes, but Therese sets her free. The compassion she feels for Carol bleeds into everything she does.

Todd Haynes is one hell of a director, and in Carol he brings queer sensibilities present in the best of his work. The shame that’s forced upon these two women because of society is maneuvered in a way that seems real and familiar, but the characters are never latent. The cinematography by Edward Lachman is some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen in my life, and like in Far From Heaven, he and Haynes use that trademark green lighting to bring about a sense of sickness whilst making it all look beautiful. And Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara give some of their best performances to date.

A masterpiece, literally a masterpiece.

Lisa Fremont liked these reviews