Carol Blu-ray Review
Going into CAROL, I knew full well that it was a lesbian romance film set in 1950’s New York. I only state that because that’s how society and others pitched the movie to me and how it was presented in the media. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I know as a society, it says a lot about our culture right now. I didn’t pop in BROOKLYN saying to myself that I’m about to watch a heterosexual love story. Nor would I have written about that statement in my review of it, had I reviewed it. The only reason I bring this up, somewhat pointing out my own flaw, is that CAROL does something magically different and unique that I’ve never seen before.
The romance and love that blossoms between Carol (Blanchett) and Therese (Mara) is natural, subtle, and enchanting. The pace is far from fast, and is purposely plodding so that we, just like Carol and Therese, can become enamored and fascinated with the other. The movie divides itself, in muted fashion, between the perspectives of Therese and Carol. The movie starts with Therese, who’s young, curious, and a bit withdrawn, which makes her more interested in Carol, who’s mature, confident, but unforthcoming.
Although we don’t learn too much about Carol until her half of the movie, the close-mouthed truth about Carol is written on the wall multiple times. There are a lot of conversations in CAROL that may seem like small talk, but they’re so much to mine out of their discussions. It takes some attention to notice the little facial tics and character nuances as Carol and Therese pry at each other with ingenuous questions. They watch each other’s reactions to questions, statements, and sometimes innocent flirtation.
As to what both ultimately see in each other, it’s a bit unclear, but that’s part of the charm of CAROL. Carol’s life appears to be falling apart and Therese’s life is seemingly just beginning. How Blanchett and Mara react to one another and the problems in each other’s lives is nothing short of astounding. If it’s possible to tie for best performance in a film, and best female performance of the year, it would be these two in CAROL. Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson provide some supporting roles, acting up to the high standards set by our leading ladies, and helping provide some much needed insight and conflict for the generally slow crawling story.
Todd Haynes, an unknown name in mainstream Hollywood, nails down the era, look, and feel of the movie. Our two actresses have already proven their worth, but it’s my belief that Haynes made sure they cranked out their best work in Carol. Everything is so meticulously set-up, that it’d be hard to imagine that Haynes didn’t force that extra effort out of every single participant in this movie.
CAROL isn’t about the barriers that are being broken, even though there are, but it’s about love. Pure and simple. As moviegoers, it’s time we move past the attachment of lesbian or gay to romance movies and simply call it a romance movie, especially a well-made one like CAROL. The love between Carol and Therese isn’t meant to shatter the status quo. CAROL is a story, which the LGBT community has been arguing for years now, about two people who are both human and have found a little more of humanity, kindness, and love in each other. If that’s not a beautiful romance movie, regardless of the stigma attached to it before you watch, I’m not sure what is.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) From the snowfall in New York to the dimly wit rooms of New York apartments, everything is visually clear on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio mixing, between dialogue, the soft stringed instruments playing on the soundtrack, and the captivating ambience all come through clearly.
Behind the Scenes Gallery (35:53): It’s a bit misleading to call it gallery since I was worried I would be trying to deal with a glitch-filled photo gallery, but instead this is a collection of interview pieces covering every aspect of production. Included are interviews with the director, writer, actresses, designers, and even the composer.
Q&A Highlights with Filmmakers & Cast (29:25): A selection of Q&A’s that were culled from various cities and events. Three Q&A’s altogether, featuring Rooney Mara, the screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy, Cate Blanchett, and director Todd Haynes. This feature is slightly interesting, but there’s also an unshakeable sense of repetitiveness to this feature after the gallery.