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Carol  : Sexuality Counts
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Friday, February 26, 2016
Todd Haynes
Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

It’s the time-tested setting for romance. Instant chemistry between a rich, older man and a young woman still to find out who she really is. Multiple meetings, growing chemistry. Finally, a drive out of town, a motel, a hotel suite, soft music in the background and it’s Xmas week to boot. So let’s exchange presents. The inevitable consummation.


Substitute the man with a rich, older woman on the verge of a divorce and retain the fairly inexperienced young girl with the same romantic setting.


And you have director Todd Haynes’ Carol, the cinematic version of the book titled The Price of Salt. If the quintessential heterosexual romance is acceptable, I guess it’s time to give a nod to a sexuality that’s been under the wraps for eons now.


But in an era when manual typewriters were in use and digital photography was unheard of, it’s grounds for Carol’s husband Harge to term his wife “immoral” and claim custody of their only child. Which he does by getting the consummation of the two women surreptitiously taped.


Carol’s caught between her love for young Therese and wanting to hold on to her little daughter.


Therese herself is just discovering herself. That she’s not going to wear a silly cap and sell toys behind a counter; she’s actually a budding photographer with a job offer at The Times. And Therese is caught too. Between the winter romance with Carol and the young men keen to make her acquaintance.


After dancing around alternatives, where do their hearts lead Carol and Therese?


As I said earlier, it’s like any time-tested romance with the same sick feeling that one experiences when one is dumped by a lover. Even the missing-each-other routine is familiar. The only difference is that this is a full-bodied emotional and physical attraction between two women. Which is still considered bold and therefore qualifies for an Oscar nomination.


Does Cate Blanchett deserve an Oscar for her performance as Carol? I didn’t think narrowing her eyes for most of the time was worth an award. Young Rooney Mara as Therese had more confusion to battle with.


Ultimately, I think Carol is treated as a big deal only because it’s a romantic story between the same sex.  If you’d like to watch it, go for it.


As for me, I’m neither repulsed nor entirely convinced about this being a refreshingly told relationship story.


For a romantic story that’s different only because of its sexuality, Carol gets a 2.5* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author


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