Carol

We wanted to go see Brooklyn, but the showing we wanted to go was pre-empted for a showing of Trumbo.

Couldn’t pay me.

Carol wasn’t on my list of movies to see because Todd Haynes strikes me as creepy (as a director, I mean, I have no idea what the guy looks like) and because I mix him up with Todd Solondz, who also strikes as creepy (ibid). The Boy was seduced by the very high (90s) RT score, though and, well, there we were.

Carol is the story of a middle-aged lesbian in 1952-1953 who preys on a young, confused girl while using her former lover to run interference on her husband, who reacts by isolating her from her young daughter.

Cate Blanchett gets a pass, of course.
Nothing creepy here, amirite? Just two gals talkin’.

I mean, we can do this the way the movie sets it up: Carol sees Therese in a department store, falls in love, and is thwarted from pursuing her happiness by uptight ’50s morays, but factually, Carol is a terrible, terrible person who has no qualms destroying a lot of people’s lives, apparently.

I was reminded of High Noon, which is a movie I’ve referred to on many occasions. In High Noon, you know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is because the good guy wears a white hat and is Gary Cooper, while the bad guy wears a black hat and Jack Palance. To this day, I don’t know what it is that the Bad Guys were gonna do if Gary Cooper just, you know, left the town where nobody could be arsed enough to defend themselves from, well, whatever it was the Bad Guys were gonna do.

Palance won an Oscar for "City Slickers", tho'.
“First, we’re going to open a FABULOUS haberdashery that sells the BEST gloves!”

(And yes, Jack Palance was in Shane not High Noon, but my point stands, dammit!)

So, in this movie, we know the good guys because they’re the lesbians. And we know the bad guys, because they’re men. So this is a beautiful romance between two women that, I’m sure, we’re supposed to believe had a happily ever after waiting for them, if only society would just let people be who they were born to be, goshdarnit.

But, factually, again, what we know about Carol is that she married a guy late in life, she had an affair with a woman (whom she knew? groomed? from the age of 10), and then had a child with her husband, broke it off with lover #1, and then broke it off with her husband, while picking up on a woman maybe young enough to be her daughter. Whom she couldn’t restrain preying on for a week, say, while her husband is particularly pissed off at her and in custody of their daughter.

Choose any other combination of genders and orientations where this wouldn’t be regarded as completely sleazy. I defy you.

Alright, alright, alright!
Even when the age difference is MUCH smaller.

Apart from that, th0ugh, to paraphrase Mary Todd Lincoln, it was a great show.

I’m not kidding. The camerawork, the costumes, the hair, the recreation of 1952 New York City—meticulously done, beautifully shot, though without any really great blocking or visual tableaus that I can recall. It’s a sort of porn for a particular demographic that doesn’t include me. Carter Burwell’s score is wonderful. Honestly, I enjoyed the technique of the movie so much that it was only the jarring nature of the narrative that ruined it for me. It could’ve been pleasant enough fluff if it wasn’t constantly daring us to overlook Carol’s flaws.

But it’s Cate Blanchett, for whom seduction of men, women and hobbits is all very easy. Reminds me a bit of Kate Winslet, who has a penchant for playing awful, awful, awful women in Oscar bait movies.

It's quite a talent.
Cate easily out-acts her own physical beauty.

Sarah Paulson plays the discarded lover. Rooney Mara is the gal toy. There were some men, but who cares about them, really?

I guess it’s made $8M worldwide on a budget of $11-12M, but it’s hard for me to see how they put this together with just $12M, unless a lot of folks working for scale. (Compare it to Brooklyn, for example, which allegedly has the same budget, no really big names, fewer sets—and has made $20M so far.)

The Boy likened it to “clap humor”. It’s not actually a good narrative, but it’s a “correct” one. It will probably trounce Brooklyn, awards-wise.

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