Flung Out of Space ‘Carol’ Movie Review

Cast: Cate Blanchett- Carol//Rooney Mara- Therese

Cate and Rooney

Director: Todd Haynes

Era: 1950s

Take Place: Cincinnati, Ohio

Adapted Screenplay based on a novel called ‘The Price of Salt’ by  Patricia Highsmith.

Spoilers Alert!!

Every time when I watch this movie, I always feel suffocating and heartaching.

Compare to ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’, it is more subtle, delicate and melancholy. The eye contact at the end is so overwhelming , searing and compassionate. In the movie, both of them don’t really have lots of physical touch. For example, a scene where they put the perfume on their own body, and Therese approach and sniff the perfume of Carol. They haven’t touched each other but the interaction is very affectionate.

Sniff gif

And when Carol said she should probably leave you two alone, Therese hesitated and asked ‘Are you Sure?’ and when Carol about to leave, she put her hand on Therese’s shoulder and said ‘You two have a wonderful night’. Through Therese facial expression, we can tell she doesn’t want Carol to go yet she doesn’t have the resolve and courage to stop her.  At their first ride on the car, Therese concentrates on staring at Carol while Carol is speaking(Deliberately turns down Carol’s voice and close-up of Carol’s face in the movie), conspicuously features the Therese be drawn attraction to Carol. Therese once said that she is not into portrait photography, yet she can’t help to capture the captivating grace of Carol in the Christmas market.

I love retro, vintage kind of movie with film camera, black and white photography, fedora hats,vintage car, jazz music and vinyl record. I always imagine what my life would change if I was born in that era. Back to the day, homosexuality is definitely a subculture or even a taboo, but it is not something new back in the days.

The movies captures the ordinary stages of falling in love. Attraction in first sight, guessing game of each other thoughts, approach, invitation, meeting up and spending time together, physical intimacy and the aching missing moments.That proves to the audience that actually lesbians also go through the ‘normal’ stages as everyone else has been through.People who cant accept love other than the ‘normal, mainstream’ heterosexual love because they have very strong stereotypes of man and woman role in the society. But love should never be defined or measured simply by gender and any other demographics like race or age. Living under apprehension is never fair to the LGBT lovers who are uncontrollably attracted into each other.

People believes it is an illness that need to be cured, and offers therapy or even treatments to those who dare to choose a different path and stay truthful to who they are and who they really love.

In the movie, Carol insists

“He is not a doctor, just a psychotherapist"

First Encounter

When Therese first laid eyes on Carol with red hat and scarf(Look closer red fingernail and lips too), audience can feel the immediate draw through Therese’s eyes, and when Carol turns around and said ‘I like the hat'(Christmas Hat),it is like an arrow shot through her heart, strong affinity with Carol.

Red Symbolic

Not just the outlook of Carol are full of red color, but also the restaurant they have lunch together including the menu and the seats. Red coat and red rimmed sunglasses Carol is wearing when she pay a visit to the law firm.

Seductive Dialogues starting from Lunch

Carol felt delighted that Therese sent her back the gloves and treated her a lunch

“Do you live alone, Therese Belivet?"

Calling Therese with her full name sounds enticing, and also she wanted to scoop if she has a boyfriend or not.

“Would you like to visit me on Sunday?"

And during Therese visit to Carol’s house, Carol said this with alluring tone

“Would you let me come see you tomorrow evening?" Such a bold and aggressive move!!

“Perhaps you would like to come with me! Would you?" 

Carol invites Therese to travel to the West with her with sincere and eager tone.

“It’s big enough for two.I was hoping you might like to come live with me, but I guess you won’t. Would you?"Carol asked. 

“No, I don’t think so." Therese answered

It’s the first time Therese says no to Carol, symbolizes that she has grown and has her own individual thought.

‘I Don’t Know’ said by Therese

Therese can’t figure out what she wants, like what to eat in lunch, how to deal with her boyfriend Richard, his Europe plan and his proposal, how to react to her Richard’s friend kiss. She can never make up her mind.

“What’re you thinking?"(Carol)

“What I can do is to say Yes to everything"(Therese)


First Touch

When Carol is warping up the Christmas gift, Therese is playing a lovely piano piece called Easy Living by Billie Holiday. Carol comes from Therese back, put her two hands on Therese’s shoulders and said ‘That’s Beautiful’. Obviously, Therese doesn’t know how to response and thus continue playing the piece.

“All you can do is keep working, Use what feels right, Throw away the rest"

Carol’s advice to Therese regarding her job, but it can also imply her attitude towards love.

2nd Touch

Carol cries because she can’t see her own daughter before the hearing bound by an injunction. Therese doesn’t say anything but just pat her shoulder, and Carol soon grabs her hand.

3rd Touch

After Therese shows the present she chosen for Carol, then she takes out her camera and starts shooting, Carol refuses, but Therese comforts her with her warm hand and said ‘You look wonderful’

4th Touch

When Therese falls asleep in the car, Carol put a coat on her body to keep her warm


Sometimes we cry not just because of sadness, but because we care. If we think something is unrelated, then we will not have emotion towards it, it is none of our business. Therese cries on the train because she cares how Carol thinks about her.

Spying from the car

Phone ring immediately at a right timing, it is definitely not a coincidence. Carol also shows that she cares how Therese feels.

Morality Clause/Misconduct

People in that era can’t even dare to say it out loud the word ‘homosexuality’ for God’s sake. They need to refer the affair as ‘Event from the Winters’ LOL.

Trip to the West

At first, they sleep in a separate room. When they reach to the second motel, Carol plans to order two standard rooms. Yet, Therese takes a bold move by suggesting ‘Why not take the Presidential Suite?’.They sleep on the same double bed, Therese laid her eyes on Carol who already fall asleep with a smile on her face. Third night, they arrive to a hotel in Chicago, there are two single beds in the room. Fourth night, they continue to head West and stop at Waterloo, Iowa(Ironic) and that day is a New Year’s Eve. Final Night heading home, there are 2 single double beds again.


Therese snuffs Carol’s blue sweater before handing it to Carol.

Therese approaches and smells the perfume on Carol body

Apart from the lesbian love, the age difference would be another spotlight of the relationship. When Carol decides to leave Therese, she said

“You may seek for resolution or explanation when you are young, but you will understand it one day"

This shows the difference in thinking between the two.

Yet, I don’t believe it is a barrier or so called a ‘generation gap’. Only by understanding each other need and thinking, can the love between two people blossom.

Both characters go on their own journey. Carol need to handle the custody problem of her beloved daughter and her doomed marriage, while Therese is figuring out what she is really want and plan for her own future. When Richard asks her  if she would love to visit Europe, she doesn’t know how to reject by saying ‘ I think it’s so cold I can’t think straight’. ‘Can’t think straight’ is such an ironic dialogue.

Therese goes through heartbreak and evolves into certain degree of maturity after Carol decided to leave her alone.

After both characters have honestly resolved their own inquires while separating from one another, they eventually can consolidate their relationship.

The beginning of the story is corresponding with the ending. Sometimes it is cliche for director to do so, but it is delicately done by director Todd Haynes in this movie

The original soundtrack of Carol is a piece dominated by strings instrument, it suits the era and the story line.I thought that it will win the Oscars Original Score, yet it lost to The Hateful Eight(I watched it too). I still believes the Carol soundtrack is more capable to pull the heartstrings of the audience, especially the moment when they both know they gonna torn apart, there is an overwhelming helplessness. And at the ending, OMG, I really want to shed my tears along with the soundtrack.




Recommended Movies:

Far from Heaven(2003) Todd Haynes(Same Director)






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