Warning: SPOILERS (just in case we weren’t the last to see it)
At first I wasn’t even sure whether or not I wanted to see Carol. I was afraid of how it would end, and determined not to sit through another lesbian-themed movie that would leave on a note of little to no hope, or worse, with one of the main characters dead. Once bitten, twice shy.
So I asked a friend on Facebook—who was quite incredulous that I would want them—for spoilers. Once assured that none of my fears were about to come true, I became interested, especially after reading various reviews.
Here’s my opinion:
First of all, the first meeting. I’ve heard a few times that the theme of instant connection between the main characters is something that’s overdone. I disagree. First of all, the sheer numbers. Compared to the amount straight themed movies and books, I don’t believe that anything’s overdone yet. On a personal note? I love it, seeing it, reading it, writing it. I thought it was believable and sweet, the chemistry obvious.
The characters: I enjoyed watching the romance of two strong characters, women who were ahead of their time in knowing that there was nothing wrong with them. Their time, their environment was against them, but they still found a way to be together.
They both grow in the course of the story—Carol deciding that living an authentic life rather than stick with a miserable compromise was a much better way for both her and her daughter. Therese who at some point feels like she’s just saying yes to everything, clearly has made up her mind in the end. This ‘yes’ is an informed choice, not a spur of the moment decision.
I loved how so much was said between the lines. This is another favorite of mine, when characters—good actors—can communicate without words, affection, longing, want.
The name Todd Haynes pretty much guaranteed beautiful imagery, and didn’t disappoint.
I soon forgot why I was ever worried about watching this movie, and it stayed with me.
Do I have a wish-list for movies I want to see as long as the phone book? Of course. I want all of it, action, adventure, drama, mystery, romance and thrillers, political, dystopian and every genre you can imagine. This was just one item to cross off my giant fantasy list, but I’m happy about it. I didn’t think it was ‘slow’—in fact, I thought for the time it was set in, the pacing was completely appropriate.
It was one of the movies I wanted to see for a long time. The damaging effects of homophobia and misogyny aren’t being denied, but they don’t seem so insurmountable. In art that’s both social commentary and escapism, it’s important that ‘it gets better’ has its place too.
The Happy Ending is an archetypal theme that doesn’t belong to straight people only, but all of us.