I loved this film.
I loved the colour palette; the kind of noir-ish muted look really worked for me. I like how it avoided the kind of “oh those were the days!” brightness we often get in 50s films, and how it was more of a realistic look. It also reinforced the ennui of the main characters. The usage of 16mm complemented the visuals nicely too. Some of the lighting, combined with the usage of 16mm, combined with the colour palette, really gave the film a sort of dreamy, fog-like aesthetic, which I thought worked really well.
I loved the refreshing restraint. There was basically no melodrama, which is so rare in films with this sort of subject matter. I loved how even in scenes like the one where Therese repaints her apartment, it’s not some bash-you-over-the-head symbolism with her painting it a very bright colour (let alone rainbow coloured!); instead it’s a dull blue. She’s entering a new chapter in her life, but it’s not being screamed at us, and she’s not loudly proclaiming it to the world. The film was full of restraint like this, and it works so well thematically complementing the simmering romance of the film. One had to be restrained in the time period, and the film displays that at every level.
I loved the costuming. Therese’s coat and hat thing seem iconic already.
I loved the story. It wasn’t a preaching melodrama (many of which I love too, but I appreciate a film dealing with the subject matter doing something different), it was just a simple story of what it would actually be like for two of the same gender to fall in love in the 1950s.
I loved the performances. The supporting cast was good (I always appreciate seeing Kyle Chandler in something), but Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were absolutely phenomenal.
I loved the powerful ending.
I loved the inclusion of “Easy Living”, a great song.
I loved how voyeurism was enforced multiple ways through the film; the direct (Therese’s photography), the indirect (people watching), and the symbolic (frame in frame shots, through the windows and doorways motifs).
I liked the score. It was a bit too melodramatic for me at times, and I dislike when scores in otherwise restrained films get overly emotive (Spotlight did this even more), but it was very pretty.
I disliked any moment where it trended a bit close to melodrama really. The Carol/husband subplot did this the most. I don’t mind melodrama, but in a film so thematically focused on restraint, it feels tonally off. Fortunately, it was a rare occurrence in the film.
Overall, this was a fantastic film, crafted fantastically, with fantastic performances. I truly enjoyed it.
I give it four tape recordings, and a candid photo.