'Carol' is Excellent... and Highly Unusual
Carol is a really excellent and highly unusual movie that may be suffering at the box office for its very superiority, despite the awards nominations for both of its stars.
Carol is less about what Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara actually do than it is about their fears and anxieties about what they are doing and might do; we are shown just enough of what would ordinarily be considered a plot that we are never puzzled as to the central story line.
Cate Blanchett is a bisexual wife and mother who has clearly been down the road of lesbianism before, and she may be more sure of what it involves that I suspect. Let me say that after the show, I didn't get out of the lobby before I was speculating with four other people, all of whom liked the movie a great deal, as to exactly what had happened. Rooney Mara is obviously hesitant about Blanchett's apparent approaches. And in my interpretation, which was not accepted as definite even by me, Blanchett is uncertain about just how much trouble she is willing to cause Mara.
Mara's boyfriend accuses her of having a mere crush on Blanchett and doesn't take it seriously, but Blanchett's husband is of quite a different opinion. In order to keep us wondering what the two women are thinking, director Todd Haynes avoids showing us anything more than the bare minimum of plot action, giving hints that are put across mostly by sheer magnificence of acting, and this is effective mostly because we are trying to figure out the same things Mara, certainly, and Blanchett, probably, are trying to figure out.
I don't know when I've been more riveted by what was happening on the big screen, and I'm not going to tell you any more about what it was. My fellow discussants don't think I can, and I'm not sure the characters could, either. That's the essential realism, and the core entertainment, of Carol.