Saturday, April 09, 2016

Carol (2015) ***

I'm a bit behind on watching my Oscar-nominated movies this year, so I was psyched when the DVD for “Carol” became available on Netflix. You may have heard of this one. It's the quiet, period piece about a forbidden, lesbian love affair, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Some of you are already tuning out at this point, and I can't blame you. These movies can be tedious. I'll just jump ahead and tell you what you mainly want to know, which is “Is there any girl-on-girl action?” The answer is yes, but it takes them ages to get around to it.

For those interested in the actual plot of the movie, it centers around Carol (Blanchett), a rich, bored, 1950's woman in an unhappy marriage. Her husband loves her, but her history of “close” friendships with women is driving them to divorce. When Carol meets Therese (Mara) in a department store, the chemistry is immediate. Soon the two are hanging out as friends, and then Carol invites Therese on a vacation. Having just met Carol a couple of weeks before, you might think Therese would decline, and spend the holiday with her fiance, but she just packs a bag and heads out for what she probably figures will be some “Thelma and Louise”-style adventure. I wish it had turned out that way! Carol is actually packing a gun, so you figure maybe they will end up robbing a bank or something, but nothing like that happens. We just get to watch Carol being depressed and conflicted, because her husband is using her lesbian affairs as ammunition in their custody battle. She does make herself feel better by finally (FINALLY!) going to bed with Therese, but that's as wild as their trip gets.

I'm making the movie sound worse than it is. The performances are actually quite good, and the movie is filmed beautifully. It just feels very inert to me, this little time capsule about intolerance and closeted life in the 1950's. If you are into this kind of movie, then I don't think you will regret watching “Carol,” but it isn't a movie I can imagine watching again.

3 stars out of 5

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