There is a part of me that, while watching this, wants to say “All Todd Haynes movies are the same!” But really I’m thinking of one movie, Far From Heaven. It’s not fair to Haynes other films – most of which I’ve never seen – but I cannot help but see very strong similarities in thematic content, if not in plot, between the two films.
I am not a fan of the work of Douglas Sirk but I will say that, of necessity and stylistically, this film is far less indebted to Sirk than Far From Heaven was. I mean, thematically it still is, but I feel like the obsession with Sirk’s colour palette has disappeared, which makes this film feel more independent than that tribute.
I am not one to worship or long for the past, especially the past I didn’t experience. I sometimes think of Haynes’ period romances as rebukes to those who wish we could return to “simpler” times which were not simpler for most people, nor were they better. As someone who needs no convincing of this, I find these period romances unnecessary. That’s not fair, of course, as whether or not art is “necessary” is hardly a good criterion.
This film is well made. The sense of place is complete; the clothing, the sets, the behaviour. It is well acted. Both Blanchett and Mara are excellent.
Its resolution is perhaps a titch unrealistic given the time it is set in. I can’t imagine the resolution to Carol’s custody hearing was common, if it even happened. It’s hard to buy.
Another issue I have is how this is about. I feel like we are inundated with stories about the romantic lives of the rich, the fortunate, the privileged. I feel like I might have enjoyed something like this more had it told a story I feel was less familiar, even though I haven’t actually seen anything with this exact plot before.
But I can’t really criticize it as a film. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it. I just don’t know that seeing it has changed anything about my life or the way I think about the past.
7/10 I guess