“Carol”—A Salty Portrayal



The Academy-Award nominated film, “Carol”, starring Cate Blanchett in the title role and Rooney Mara as Therese, a department store “shop girl” deals with a lesbian romance set against the closeted and intolerant era of 1950s America. First titled “The Price of Salt” (and retitled “Carol” in 1990) , the novel was controversial when first published in 1952 prompting the author, Patricia Highsmith, to use a pen name. Other books of the time exploring the same subject, tended to have the heroine devolve into suicide or madness, if lesbianism was even hinted at .

Highsmith apparently drew from her own experience to portray that even a very wealthy woman had to stay under the radar. “Carol” ferociously depicts the discrimination and personal torment that lesbian women faced in the fifties. The romance between Carol and Therese is the major plot, as well as the entrapment in a society’s mores that doesn’t allow them to love.

This could easily have been one of the best movies of 2015, but it is not. I liked it but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The family dysfunction beautifully displayed at Christmas time (symbolic of family and stress) is not balanced. What should have been a torrid love affair implied between Therese and Carol falls flat. The chemistry between the two actresses was glaringly missing.

Tightly controlled and magnetic performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (as well as Kyle Chandler as the offended husband of Carol) are slowed down by director Todd Haynes (of “Far From Heaven”) who seems to focus on visual scenes at the expense of the storytelling. “Carol” expresses not only a story about two generous souls falling in love but also the mindset of a society entrenched in hard-hearted “values”.



Comments (3)

  • Diana, I am so excited that I’ve discovered both of your websites as I was researching how to set up a website, and as a sister SheWrites author soon to be. I bought Things Unsaid to read and give to a friend who is suffering from the same dilemmas of parents, once rich, who have left things in a terrible mess for their children to have to pick up, including having to support them. I also saw the movie, Short Term 12, which I loved, that you reviewed in a recent post. I also appreciate your art and am fascinated by your immersion in Buddhism, and look forward to reading one of your books on women and Buddhism. I feel that I’ve walked into a world of treasures simply by finding your website! Thank you! MJ

  • I thought CAROL definitely should’ve made it to the top ten The Academy Awards nomination list, they picked only eight. Consider it 9th on my list for the cinema-photography alone. Much of the hidden love/lust sequences are seen behind windows spotted with raindrops (tears). The story was compelling though unbelievable, even for a married-with-angry-confused rich husband. Carol decided to ‘run away,’ why was it west in the winter only as far as Iowa or Ohio? Midwest characterizations notwithstanding, the struggle between love for one’s child, and love as an adult in 1952 are felt deeply. I’ve ordered the book … stay tuned, but GO! I found it much better than way too s-l-o-w Brooklyn which did make it to the list.

  • This movie was nominated? Wow, I had no idea! I love the story, I just felt like something was missing. I was expecting more hatred for the lesbian community. However, the movie description and what actually happened in this film seemed to have left the more obvious disapprovals out. Then again, the movie really only focused on a handful of characters.

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