There are no accidents

There are no accidents

 

When we capture a photograph, we can potentially do something magical. Besides assigning immortality to one split second, we are able take the mundane and the ordinary and potentially assign it great beauty. It might seem like a fluke – like being in the right place at the right time, but in actuality, it all comes down to seeing the world a certain way…and knowing how to make others see that way with the result.

Love can be like that. Love can be all about being it the right place, looking at the ordinary, and seeing it in a certain way. When that happens, a split-second can go on for hours, days, or years.

As CAROL suggests, being able to recognize love in a split-second can lead to something magical.

Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) isn’t happy. She and her husband (Kyle Chandler) are virtually estranged, she and her daughter are distant because of the marital strife. Meanwhile, her former lover (Sarah Paulson) is still on the outskirts of the picture providing husband of a reminder of what he can’t offer and wife a taunt of what she cannot have.

From a distance though, little of this is palpable. Carol seems well-off, collected, and truly set. At least, it would appear so from the vantage point of Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara).

Therese works in the toy department of a large New York department store. By night she is trying to earn her stripes as a photographer and continually being propositioned by her male companion, Richard (Jake Lacy). Richard wants to marry Therese; she seems only mildly interested. One afternoon, Therese serves Carol in the department store and is instantly infatuated. Opportunity knocks when Carol forgets her gloves, and Therese mails them back.

In an effort to thank her new acquaintance, Carol invites her to lunch. However, after it becomes clear that she is equally curious about Therese as this ingenue is about her, lunch becomes drinks back at the house…and drinks soon become a day trip.

Soon the women are sacrificing a great deal to be with each-other. They consider each-other kindred spirits, and fall hard for one-another. But what about that which they have left behind them in New York? Can they really just “run away together” and enjoy the throes of an illicit affair? Or is the real world just too dense a boundary to escape?

 

Rooney Mara in CAROL

 

CAROL is a film that is both bold and subtle at the same time. On the one hand, it is vibrant. Shot after shot go by filled with the most stylish of visuals, and the most picturesque of moments. This is not just an affair, but instead an affair committed lovingly to film. If you don’t understand the difference, look at that top image and ask yourself if you have ever glanced at a toy display and felt as thought you’d been captured in watercolour?

As we watch the way Carol acts towards Therese, we see a wide array of feelings drift across Cate Blanchett’s stunning face. We see someone who has been given it all, and yet for whom “all” is not enough. Surrounded by lush colour and vast splendour, Carol has the house, the man, the child, and the life. She is the sort of person most of us would envy and yet she is willing to throw that which we would envy away for one more stolen night with this bohemian artist née shopgirl. We see a great deal of subtle want – both for Therese as a person, and the possibilities that still lay ahead of her. It’s tender jealousy for everything she will feel for the first time, and it is seldom captured with such elegance.

Grand as she seems, Carol is a tragedy. She is a woman out of time, who couldn’t ever have that which truly made her feel whole.

If there’s an upside to her tragic tale, it might be the lessons her very presence instil into Rooney Mara’s embodiment of Therese. When she first gains Carol’s attention, it’s easy to tell why she’s so smitten. It’s as if a goddess has smiled down upon a lowly mortal. In Carol she knows she’s found someone who looks at her the way she dreams of being looked at. Who considers her mature, sophisticated, and elegant. Someone enticed with the elegance of “Therese” instead of the commonality of “Terry”.

However, as time goes on, we can see that this is more than just a fling for Therese, brief as the encounter may be. This is an affair that will shape her entire life. It will define what she looks for in a partner and even mould the sort of woman she strives to be. As time goes on, we catch glimmers of just what Carol has unlocked in Therese. She has not only become for her the bar by which all future lover will be measured, but also the presence and grace we see her begin to emulate before the film is over.

In life, sometimes the most unexpected encounters can provide us with the greatest opportunity to learn about ourselves. A single touch or a single glance can express something we have spent years trying to find the words for. These moments are usually most unexpected; finding at inopportune times and hitting us with a great amount of force. How we respond to such instances is what allows us to look inside ourselves for a second. It’s there that we can occasionally discover something we lack – or to the contrary, come to know a whole fortitude we never knew we had. To the outside world, these profound moments can remain deeply hidden. They only appear as though a person is saying goodbye for the evening, or is taking an impromptu photograph.

But for those in the middle of it all, these seemingly ordinary occurrences are fleeting glimpses of something special. They are intense and true feelings we will spend the rest of our lives trying to recapture or relive.

CAROL is a testament to just such a moment, warmly inviting us to remain in it for more than just a fleeting glimpse.

 

Matineescore: ★ ★ ★ ★ out of ★ ★ ★ ★
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