Dante Izrael’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film Club Secret Cinema: Round #10
No question about it, Carol is a lush and beautiful movie. I almost feel bad about the circumstances I ended up watching it, since it was recommended to me based off of my noted enjoyment of other Todd Haynes films, which means that I’m inevitably going to compare it to other films of his. And I sadly have to admit that for me personally, this comes nowhere close to being his masterpiece.
Despite not being Safe, however, Carol is still a very beautiful and rich film. Like the somewhat similar Far From Heaven, Elmer Berenstein’s score does a great deal of the work in making the film what it is (at least for me). There is definitley something commendable about the way that absolutely no scene in this feels remotely male gaze-y, with even the sex scene existing to communicate the romantic feelings between two women to the audience, in a way that humanizes them rather then objectifies them. I think that’s the word that I would use to describe the relationship between the two women overall in Carol - human. This is very clearly a romance between two people who have made mistakes in their lives, and I really love how fleshed our both of the characters feel. We see both Carol’s wisdom and Therese’s naïveté conveyed effectively and I think that dynamic really works well.
If this was my first Todd Haynes film then I’m sure I would have got a lot more out of this (my first was Velvet Goldmine, if you were wondering, which interestingly I watched right around the time that this came out), but I think my biggest problem with this is that I’ve seen this director do much better. That being said, Carol does not suffer from being a bad film, quite the opposite - it suffers from being a good film from a great director.
If you like Carol, then I’d definitely recommend giving more of Todd Haynes’s filmography a try. Safe is hands down my favourite, but Far From Heaven is probably the best jumping point thematically from Carol.