Thursday, January 21, 2016

Oscar Project 2016: Carol

Movie: Carol

I liked this but didn't love it, which was disappointing because so many of my friends had spoken so highly of it, and I'm usually all about the Rich Sad Drunk Midcentury WASPs. And the more I've thought about it, the less I like it. I think my main problem with it was that none of the characters felt like people, at all; they were one-dimensional collections of cliches, and most of them - mostly problematically Therese - seemed to have no existence before or outside of the timeline of the movie. This made it very difficult to empathize with anyone or to understand their motivations, and there were plenty of actions in this movie that would have benefited from some explanation of motivations. It's possible that the characters were shown this way to show that none of them saw each OTHER as real people, in which case I understand it as a choice, but it still didn't really work for me. In the middle of the movie I came up with a theory about a possible giant plot twist that would have made it all much more comprehensible, but it didn't happen.*

(Some slight spoilers: My main issue, I think, was that Therese was such a blank. Who WAS she? Did she have a family? How did she afford that apartment while working in a department store? (Note: Eilis in Brooklyn was working in a department store in the same year and her life seemed much more realistic.) No one other than her boyfriend was around to care that she was going off with some person she'd just met? Did she just quit her job? What was she THINKING?)

This WAS a very pretty movie, gorgeously shot, and it was very effective at making me want a martini. Would someone please bring me a martini?

Availability: Currently in theaters.

Nominated in:

Actress in a Leading Role: Nope. My main reaction to Cate Blanchett in this was "Is she auditioning to play Baroness Schraeder?" but that comparison does a disservice to Eleanor Parker, who was a PARAGON OF SUBTLETY compared to Blanchett here. To be fair, she wasn't given a lot to work with, I don't think, but she came across almost as a caricature of herself.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Rooney Mara was a bit better, I think, but she also didn't do much to deepen the essential blankness of her character. Again, maybe that was the point! But it didn't work for me.

Cinematography: Yes! THIS is deserved: the movie was beautifully and interestingly shot and the cinematography did more than anything else to convey the characters' personalities and points of view.

Costume Design: Okay, sure. The costumes were great, though I thought Brooklyn did a better job, when it comes to 1950s New York.

Music (Original Score): I thought "This is really distracting/obvious/cliched" about the music several times during the movie, so . . . no.

Adapted Screenplay: No. Again, I'll have more thoughts after reading (I swear I have ALL THESE BOOKS on hold at the library), but most of what I didn't like - especially the flatness of the characters - came down to the writing, I think.

* So - SPOILERS - my crazy twist theory, especially given that this is based on a Highsmith book, was that the husband had paid Therese to entrap Carol, planted her in the store, etc. That would have made Therese so much more interesting AND explained so many of the issues I had with the plot (and also how she could afford that apartment) and I was so disappointed that that wasn't actually what was happening.

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