The Best Films of the Decade: #28. Carol (2015)

| December 14, 2019
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In just 17 Days the decade will come to a close and so for movie lovers like me it is an opportunity to look over the decade of movies that are left behind. Over the next few weeks I am going to count down the best films of the past 10 years from #40 to #1. My choices are personal choices swayed by nothing but the love I have for this medium. These are all great movies. These films all achieved something great. All reached for something special. They are the best of the decade . . .

Image result for Carol 2015

I get ribbed for this one quite a bit.  I adore Carol and when I bring it up, people often react with a smarmy grin and a joking accusation that I’m only in it for the titillating effect born of the fact that this is a movie about two gay women.  But that response is not only reactionary, it’s also dishonest, beside the point and wrought by people who haven’t actually seen the film.

Carol is a very specific film.  It is about the very specific problems facing gay women and because it takes place in the 1950s, it has a lot to unpack.  It stars Cate Blanchett as a wealthy socialite in the midst of a divorce who becomes involved in a romantic relationship with a pretty shopgirl name Thereze.

Since this movie takes place in the age of white male dominance, the movie offers up a recipe for tragedy.  One might have expected a colorless rehash of The Children’s Hour or a screed about how men ruin everything.  Okay . . . they’re not wrong, but the movie is much more intelligent and in-depth than one might expect.  Its not a story with ham-beats to mark time.  This is a story about lives being led, about specific lives being led at a time when women were expected to stay home and raise children. 

The fact that Carol and Tereze are so open with one another and because their relationship is based on who they are, the story is very intricate, very delicately told and ends on a note that is perfectly logical given what they’ve been through.  It is also one of the very rare stories about gay women in the 1950s that has an upbeat ending in that both parties are still alive.

Carol is an affirmation that even in the whirling maelstrom of ignorance and intolerance of the 1950s, people could still find one another and overcome the problems that the social strata tried to snuff out.  The ending makes you smile because you realize that it isn’t hammering home a happy ending.  It’s earned, but you also know that these two women still have problems to come.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
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