MovieChat Forums > Carol (2015) Discussion > Little, subtle details make this such a ...

Little, subtle details make this such a powerful film


I loved this movie. Awesome job. Frankly, this was one of the finest pieces of movie making I've seen in a long time. I subsequently read the book, and while I enjoyed the book, the movie is much better.

All the big things make this a great moving -- the acting, the script, the clothing and hair and makeup, the decor and furniture, the cars, the subdued color scheme, the music (both the popular tunes of the day and the original score, appropriately in a minor key), just awesome. Really well done. But it's the little things, the attention to detail that really make this a small masterpiece. Here are a few of the things I picked up...

At the start of the film, Carol is looking at a train set. She's pondering the fruitlessness of the little train frantically making endless loops but going nowhere. She glances down at the power switch and wonders if the train hates the switch. After all, that power switch is the cause of its endless looping, the cause of unending activity but no result. OK, I picked that up from the book, but when I saw the movie I figured the director had to have a reason for showing the power switch. What a great metaphor for her life (and Therese's life).

In the opening scene, when Carol and Therese are having a drink and Jack suddenly shows up, Therese turns to her left to speak to Jack while Carol, facing Therese, turns to her left to gather her things. She leans forward just a bit, and for a split second, they look as if they are about to kiss. Such a subtle little detail that I didn't pick up at first.

Later, when they are at Carol's house and Therese is playing the piano, Carol suddenly stands, looks at Therese, and moves toward her. I think this is the first time Carol seriously thought about kissing Therese, but instead, she balks and merely places her hands on Therese's shoulders. And that surprise causes Therese to stop playing. Clearly, they had feelings for each other.

Still later, when Carol asks Therese to smell her perfume, they both lean forward towards each other. A second later, as they are pulling away, Carol moves, almost imperceptibly, towards Therese and for a split second she looks like she's about to kiss Therese. Therese simply looks down, probably thinking the same thing.

And that the ending. Brilliant. The simple, but swirling music, the tiny, little beginning of a smile on Carol. Then fade to black and total silence.

I think the movie is full of little, subtle details like that. I'm curious as to what other little details others have noticed.

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:-)

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Mirrors.

The vanity in Rindy's room with the three-sided mirror. When Carol is brushing Rindy's hair, Carol's reflection does not appear in the center mirror. But when Carol and Therese are in the Waterloo motel, Carol is visible in the mirror with Therese.

(I'm not going to take credit for this detail. I read it in one of the Amazon reviews. I don't know why Amazon makes finding a particular review difficult, but I had to scroll through pages to find it. There are some reviews about Carol that are really good and insightful, and I remember the ones I liked.

Credit where credit is due: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1IZG90M9PFEE/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0189H46NM)

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Mirrors.

The vanity in Rindy's room with the three-sided mirror. When Carol is brushing Rindy's hair, Carol's reflection does not appear in the center mirror. But when Carol and Therese are in the Waterloo motel, Carol is visible in the mirror with Therese.
I've seen Carol several times, and never noticed that detail. But I must say – it's kind of creepy. Not that it plays that way, but reading it gives me an eerie feeling – like we are speaking of a ghost or something.

As much as we use mirrors in our daily lives (and I know I do), for some reason, they do conjure up a strange eeriness sometimes.

Please excuse typos/funny wording; I use speech-recognition that doesn't always recognize!

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I liked the use of mirrors and windows. To me, it signified looking at a reflection of life, in other words, a version of life that wasn't quite the real thing. Especially the scene at the Waterloo motel, when Carol and Therese are talking about New Years eve, specifically how lonely they've each been on NYE, they are not looking at each other. They are looking at a reflection of the other person. A reflection of how society sees them, but not as they see themselves. Up to that moment the lives they have been leading merely have been reflections of who they are and NOT who they are. When they finally kiss, essentially a tacit acknowledgment of their true feelings, they are looking at each other. No more reflections. They are able to be who are are.

Truly awesome movie making.

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Wow..

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[deleted]

Oops, I used the wrong word. I meant to use "explicit" or something similar. Good catch, that was an oversight on my part. I was thinking how so many of the their actions leading up the kiss were tacit expressions of their feelings. It was clear in my mind! I just got the words jumbled when I wrote!

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[deleted]

SwiftWalker:


I totally agree with you on both your initial points. The parts all came together at the right time/right place to create a really nice film.

The details really do play upon our collective subconscious to complement the themes. It took a lot of viewings to really pick up on a lot of the subtleties.

My assessment of the train scene was that Carol accidentally switched it off. The interesting thing about the train, is that it’s composed of several engine cars and regular cars* that are hooked up here and there, seemingly haphazardly. When Carol looks down at the stopped train (and the power switch), you can see the front of one of the engine cars abutting another regular car. This reminded me of the ouroborous; the snake eating its tail. That continual cycle/unending loop. Model trains can be interpreted to symbolize being able to control one’s own destiny. Her switching it off, whether accidentally or no, is symbolic of the control she has just taken of her life path. She essentially steps off the rails of the circular loop onto the spiral path of not repeating the motions. No coincidence the first person she sees is Therese.

The film itself sort of does the same thing. It comes full circle, then continues on a spiral path. Lots of spirals throughout as well.

One thing I noticed about the scene at the McKinley Motel, was that the beds upon which they had their belongings were not the beds they ended up sleeping in. They switched places.

The ending was nicely done.


*Please forgive my lack of train savvy.

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On second thought, let's not go there. It's a silly place!

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*Please forgive my lack of train savvy.


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One I did not see the 1st time I saw the movie: when they are about to have dinner at the hotel, Carol winks at Therese. Melts me every time.

Another one: when they're having breakfast at another hotel and this guy comes over. You can clearly see how Carol wants the guy to just *beep* off, she wants to be alone with Therese.

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I also noticed that when Carol is introduced to Jack and Richard, she responds 'Likewise' to both of their 'Pleased to meet you's. She says nothing in response to Tommy Tucker. Perhaps foreshadowing his role in their relationship.


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On second thought, let's not go there. It's a silly place!

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If this makes any sense.

The roles that Carol and Therese are expected to fulfill by society but have no interest in like the dolls next to them on the counter when they first meet. The tall blonde in the pretty fancy dress as Harge wants Carol to be, which is stoic well behaved lady who acts accordingly to her husbands wishes and rejects her own desires to be with women. The shorter brunette in a wedding dress as Richard tries to have Therese be, which is stoic wife who dotes on her husband after they get married and reject her desire to be with women.


When they are in the bathrobes looking into the mirror with no jewelry, makeup ect. it takes away the status and class differences between the two; which is why they are staring at each other, because they see each other completely bare for the first time.


When she says "I doubt very much I would have gone to lunch with him" and then rubs her neck looks away then looks back at Therese which means she is little nerves and maybe still contemplating on asking Therese to the country. If you notice Carol looks down and than back at Therese the whole time like she is nerves when asking if she would like to visit her.


When she says to the women at the party and says "I might get away by myself. At least for few days" then smile because she is thinking about Therese.
















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[deleted]

Thanks.. Love this movie.

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Rooney Mara is one of the most subtle actresses I've ever seen, that's why she's my favorite.

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