Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in 'Carol.'



Why Carol Is The Best Movie Of 2015

There is power in quietness: that’s what you learn while watching Carol. In pauses, in glances, in breaks; there’s a type of intensity that can be difficult to capture. Throughout the film, Todd Haynes displays this force between the two main characters. A brief look between the characters contains more yearning than almost any other film that came out this year — and of course, much of the credit goes to Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

This was a year of loud movies; from Mad Max: Fury Road to the The Revenant to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, 2015 was dominated by blockbuster movies with intense plots. But Carol exists on the other side of the spectrum, the side that sneaks up on you. Fuzzy edges, rainy car windows, soft furs; Carol fashions a mood that’s calm and luxe. The filming is never intense, but the film itself is. Instead of showing emotion, emotion is created.  

Blanchett with Kyle Chandler in Carol.

We often commend films for “tackling issues,” but perhaps we should start commending them for not tackling issues. Does every romance movie need to dive into politics? Does every queer movie need to have the oft-repeated coming out narrative? It’s refreshing for Carol to not take on the “hard issues.” Love is soft, love is beautiful; the film remembers and revels in this.

Carol only obliquely references the struggles of being a woman in love with another woman in the 1950’s; the majority of the drama of the film isn’t due to Therese (Mara) being a woman. The tension comes from Carol leaving her husband. Of course, being queer is a factor in all of this, but it isn’t the factor. Being queer isn’t the message. It’s not the end all, be all of the movie.

Rooney Mara as Therese in Carol.

More than being a movie about queer women, it’s a movie about women; it’s a movie about women where you rarely have to think in the male perspective. Despite the movie beginning with a shot following a man through the streets of New York City, we never really see the male perspective on the events unfolding. It never seems relevant. We’re brought into a world where only two characters matter and both characters are women: a rarity. We get well-rounded women as our main characters; unreliant on men, unrelated to men.

Why is Carol good? Because it’s new, because it’s unique, it’s a perspective that’s underrepresented. And, all in all, the film itself is beautiful and moving. That’s what we should demand from our cinema: something we’ve never seen before in a way that makes us emotional.  

All images stills of Carol

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