I went to watch Carol last December in York. I had great expectations with this movie and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightlest.
The price of Salt – the novel in which the film is based – is way more than a classic lesbian story to me. When I found myself in love with another woman I was really lost. I had so many questions, so many emotions, fears and doubts boiling inside. Then I came to read this book and it reafirmed what I was feeling. To me, it was also important that it was written by one of my literary idols, Patricia Highsmith. Her stories are dark and twisted, like The Talented Mister Ripley – many of you will know at least the film adaptation. The price of Salt is not spooky but still powerful, one of these novels I cannot forget.
The is told from Therese’s point of view. She’s a young woman working in a shopping Center at Christmas time, where she meets Carol, who is looking for a toy for her daughter. Carol is definitely the protagonist of both the novel and the film – Cate Blanchett is simply superb, anyone would fall in love with her. However, Carol herself cannot resist Therese’s mysterious aura.
There is a scene in which Carol asks Therese about the strange spelling of her name – while both are flirting. ‘Therese’ has, for sure, the resonance from distant lands and that is because her parents are from Czech Republic. Can language or spelling make someone even more attractive? I wish so, as I always have to spell my name wherever I go these days.
Therese is not a common girl. She has a strong, non-apologetic personality, she’s one of these people who knows what she wants and simply goes there and takes it, no matter the price. I admire people like her because it’s so easy to sucumb to ease and laziness in life.
We do so many things a day – we wake up, we go to work or study, we switch on thousand devices, we spend money… – but do we do what we really want to do? No, because it’s complicated. There are so many things that provide instant relief – checking emails, social media, or buying a sweet – that we have forgotten that the most important things are those difficult to get. We must endure suffering before embracing happiness, it’s always a cycle – I like to think this when things are not going that well.
Therese falls in love and she dares to do so – it is so challenging to open oneself to a stranger, to offer all that we are in exchange of nothing. She ends an unsatisfying relationship with her boyfriend – you also have to be strong to get rid of people who waste your energy instead of enriching it. And she leaves her part-time job to pursue her dream of being a set designer – or photograph in the movie.
Therese comes a foreign background. I wonder why Patricia Highsmith did this. Perhaps because she knew that when you are from another country you feel like dancing between two worlds: the here and there. Languages and rites are separated and things don’t feel as they should sometimes. You know that no matter how hard you try, you’d never feel what’s to ‘fit in’.
That’s the same I felt when I started writing in English. I know I’m never going to write as well as a native, so I may as well have fun and do it shamelessly and just for the sake of it.
Therese sees in Carol’s love and – spoiler here – rejection a way of finding her own freedom. When you had it all and then lose it all and you discover you are still alive, then I guess everything seems simpler. Since the first second we stepped on this life we walked towards our own end – unavoidably. We should remember that more often to keep trying new things, meeting new people, travelling to distant places.
And those like Therese who are dancing between worlds… sometimes it is a bit sad when you cannot feel completely connected anywhere. But then, I always tell myself, because we are strange, strange things will happen to us. And I like that adjective, beacause strange means not boring. And boring… that’s death in life.