(Todd Haynes, 2015)
I should have loved Carol.
I love stores of passion denied, of love faced with formidable obstacles.
I love cinematic storytelling that centres on the craft of directing. And this film is beautifully directed. Haynes' artistry seems at a new level here, and he plays with focus, colour and perspective impressionistically, communicating his characters inner states with nuance and soulfulness throughout the film. He does not waste a single shot, either, and more or less every shot is lovely.
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are both superb as the women who fall in love in 1950s Manhattan. Mara in particular finds depths and harmonics within her lonely, complicated young photographer that give her emotional collapse late in the film unusual power. Blanchett is doing her thing - strong and superficial, but vulnerable - and nobody else does that as well as she does, of course. There are supporting actors of incredible class like Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson, in interesting, layered roles.
This world feels real and lived in, with texture and detail that enhances and underlines the main story lines and themes.
And yet: I didn't love Carol. It felt a little one-noted and simplistic. Its view of the world as a mausoleum where even love is a melancholy, grim experience was wearing and exhausting to me. The relentlessly dour atmosphere only increased that sense, as did the absence of any humour or joy in the world Haynes depicts. It is undoubtedly a beautiful and beautifully crafted film, but I felt more respect for it than love.