"a story about life and love and how tangled these two could be. It will surprise you and make you feel every emotion in the most powerful way possible"
Carol is a love and sacrifice story based on a novel written by Patricia Highsmith. The main character, portrayed by Cate Blanchett, is a woman who seems to have it all at first sight: the family, the house, the resources to please herself. The very first scene is a Christmas-related one where she buys presents for her daughter. That is how she meets the woman who will mean so much to her and come close to losing everything.
Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is a regular, young woman who works in a department store. She is the complete opposite of Carol. Therese is simple and innocent while Carol has the experience that comes with age and the elegance and patience that also follows. The differences can be spotted from the way they dress to the way they move. However, no one seems to pay attention to that when attracted to a different person, be it friendship or more. In a very short period they end up being very close and important to one another. All of this doesn't necessarily please the other people in their lives.
Therese was - at the moment - courted by Richard (Jake Lacy) who was hoping to whisk her away. She, on the other hand, wasn't as tempted by the idea. She would rather invest time in her photography career, which Richard isn’t able to understand. Her job isn’t the ideal one, but she knows what she wants and is at the point in her life where she still has to realise how to also get there.
Carol on the other side is going through a divorce. A very strange one instigated mostly by her, as her husband isn’t sure he wants to let her go and used to take advantage of every situation that might change her mind. The extent he goes to is sometimes disturbing: he takes their daughter away from her before Christmas, even if agreed otherwise, he hires a private investigator to follow her and he ends up getting an injunction that would prevent Carol from seeing her child.
As in most similar situations, Carol ends up giving in to some of the pressure put on her and sacrifices her own wishes, even if she was living a fairy-tale escape with Therese. A very short time forward, however, allows us to see Carol somewhat undecided about what is best both for her and her daughter, and gives full custody to Harge, as long as she gets as many visitation rights as she wants: "That's the deal. You take it or leave it. But if you leave it, it will go to court and it will get ugly. And we are not ugly people, Harge!"
In the meantime, Therese has found a way of pursuing her career. She keeps on using the camera she gets as a Christmas present from Carol and has eventually gotten a job for The Times. This time we get to see a changed woman, a more secure one. A woman dressing to show her age and the lessons she had learned. All of this doesn't however change the feelings she has for Carol, nor the ones Carol has for her.
The story is an intense one and doesn't give too much of a breather. Cate Blanchett as Carol embodies the perfect elegance of that period, from the way she walks to the way she speaks. She is a strong woman, a passionate one who's been through a lot and who is trying to decide what would be the best step she could take in order not to hurt anyone important to her. She presents herself with the sophistication and calculated calm which comes from knowledge. Blanchett delivers in an Oscar-worthy way, managing to surprise us in a very good way.
Therese is the one that we get to see change and blossom. Rooney Mara manages to make us feel for her character and maybe remind us of our own similar stories - the one that has transformed us in what we are today. Her overall look helps her obtain that innocent and somewhat lost look and she plays her cards right from that point on.
Carol is a film that everyone will relate to on a certain level. It's that kind of story we can find in our day-to-day lives in different variations. It's a story about life and love and how tangled these two can get. It will surprise you and make you feel every emotion in the most powerful way possible.