Eyes, hands, body movements, and tons of words left unspoken. "Carol" is a movie that relies heavily on the nonverbal language.
Therese is a young lady who works for a department store in New York City. She is shy, discreet, quiet, an independent thinker, an attentive observer of life and people, and still quite uncertain about what direction to shift her life to and how to define her identity as a woman.
One day, there comes Carol to the store, and Therese becomes completely in awe of her. Impossible to be otherwise! Carol is mysterious, confident, sophisticated, very sensual, and breathtakingly beautiful! Mesmerizing in all the ways... She is an one of a kind character. So remote in her way of being her, but not through her eyes. Her eyes and half smiles haunt Therese with undeniable interest. Carol´s eyes have a vocabulary on their own. They convey all kinds of emotions like a kaleidoscope.
This way, starts what could be taken as an unlikely bond between two women of very different backgrounds, ages, social status, and life circunstances. The undertones that permeate all the relationship between Carol and Therese are so magical... As viewers, we become accomplices and confidants of the intimate portrait of their mutual love.
Carol seems unable to resist to involve Therese in her web of secrecy, without thinking about the consequences. Carol desires, Carol loves, Carol expects things from Therese, assuming that there is no need of any explanation about her actions or thoughts or emotions. She is, in fact, very lonely in her remoteness. She has too keep a lot under control, disguise a lot of what lives inside her. To Therese is left the task of translating what is left unspoken all the time.
Therese, in awe, follow Carol as if she was under a spell. Carol is like that fog that attracts you, wraps you in a trance-like state and makes you willing to get lost in its intricacies, a serpent, all coiled in absolute self-possession. It is her glossy beauty and enigmatic nature that keeps Therese diving deeper and deeper into her world. Therese is so young, naive, and impressionable... Regarding life experiences, she is still crawling while Carol is already an accomplished scholar.
But there is something that is very unique in Therese that starts, little by little, leaving Carol at easy to be her. There is no threat, boredom, or emptiness in Therere's presence. Carol seems so flattered by the way Therese adores her. She feeds it with her inquisitive and intense gazes and half smiles. She does not give much of herself at certain extend, but she clearly wants to be present in Therese´s moments. Somehow, her own way, she is also in awe of Therese. It will take a very long time for her to open up about her feelings, her love for Therese.
Carol seems to like the challenge of sculpting in Therese love and admiration towards her. She has certainly a bit of a narcissistic nature. She is sovereign, but at the same time gets ambushed by Therese´s intense interest in her. In fact, the truth is that the spell becomes mutual. Most of the movie is this parade of nuances revealing mutual feelings that burn little by little, until culminating in a profound connection of two hearts, minds, souls, lives, and many needs. With many twists and turns, come the transformation: Therere becomes more and more assertive and Carol more defenseless, unguarded.
Carol and Therese cannot live their love in open. It is the 1950's America. A time when the society was based on keeping up appearances at all costs. People wanted to convey perfect selves, perfect lives, and perfect everything. No matter if their lives or families or selves or jobs were falling apart, they had to hold things up and suffocate them no matter what. It was like the character of Julianne Moore in "Far From Heaven". She could not even cry inside her home. She had to hide behind the bushes of her backyard, so repressed those times were.
This love is pure, deep, passionate, understanding, delicate, and captivating. The story is, above all, this engineering that falling in love is all about. So exquisite, so rich in meanings. It transcends... As the magnificent Cate Blanchett, who gave the flawless performance as Carol, said: "volcanic feelings".
Sometimes, so much is happening between two people, an earthquake, a tsunami of emotions and still people around them may not notice a thing. I think especially when it happens between two women in love, because women are all about nuances, overtones, undertones, so much is exchanged in silence, very subtly, discreetly, almost telepathically. Women just know without the need of words, they identify the meanings in one another. The most ordinary things can be so revealing...
Carol and Therese's relationship is like that. The beauty and impressiveness of it happens exactly in these moments of complete silence, those long scenes without dialogue. Only eyes and hands and the body movements speak and they certainly speak a thousand words. This is a love that goes beyond the boundaries of one's skin. So divine, sublime, and alluring it is. Takes us hostages of it from the beginning to the very end!
-Simone Bittencourt Shauy-