Carol – a film of forbidden love in 1952

Carol is a beautiful movie about a love affair between two women in 1952. This was when such a relationship was not only illegal, but also incomprehensible to most people in American society.  Cate Blanchett is Carol, a wealthy middle-aged married woman. She becomes infatuated with a shy younger woman she meets in a department store.

Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett in Carol

Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett in Carol

Therese (the younger woman) is petite and soft spoken and flattered at the attention being paid to her by by such a sophisticated upper class woman. As viewers, we are not sure if Therese understands what Carol is actually looking for.  Therese is perfectly played by Rooney Mara.

Carol herself is not sure how Therese will react to any advances, so she is very cautious as they slowly become friends.

Kyle Chandler in Carol

Kyle Chandler in Carol

Kyle Chandler is Carol’s husband Harge. He simply cannot accept the fact that his wife is a lesbian. In fact, the word “lesbian” is never uttered in the film Carol. In 1952, the words “unnatural” or “deviant” were the phrases, and even those were only uttered softly and behind closed doors.

Harge wants his life to remain as it has always been, and is willing to use threats to keep the status quo. If Carole divorces him, she could be forbidden from ever seeing her child. In 1952 “deviant” behavior of a homosexual nature would have labeled her an unfit mother if it came out in divorce proceedings.

Carol avoids making Harge a film-cliche bad guy. He is not an evil man, he is just someone overwhelmed by his wife behaving so far outside the bounds of  normalcy. He wants to help his wife with therapists, and does love his wife.

Carol is a wonderful period piece film. It does not try to force 2016 behavior onto characters from 1952. People remain very much a part of whatever environment they are born into.  It is fascinating to see how forbidden love was handled 64 years ago.

 

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