Director Todd Haynes, so good at recreating the feel of certain eras in American culture, here in Carol, fully and beautifully realizes the 1950s, particularly the 1950s of the upper classes. The costumes, the nightclubs, the Manhattan house parties and restaurants, a fancy store’s toy department — all are stamped with Haynes’ magic eye for period flavor and detail. This becomes our setting for one of the most honest, deliberate love stories in recent memory. This is, in fact, the first movie I can recall that treats lesbians as flesh-and-blood human beings with human passions – absent from Carol are the shame and fear of the two schoolteachers in 1951’s The Children’s Hour, directed by William Wyler from the hit Lillian Hellman play, or the over-the-top histrionics (which, don’t get me wrong, I liked) of The Killing of Sister George (1968, directed by Robert Aldrich). Every character in Carol is an original, genuine, open. Everybody cares and cares deeply about the other, which makes the hurt, when hurt does come, all the more palpable, deep.
Tag: Todd Haynes
By the time of the 1991 release of Poison, gay themes, though present, weren’t exactly expected in genre cinema. Within the confines of the horror genre, themes of lesbianism showed up (usually eroticized or rendered evil) in Hammer films like Twins of Evil (1971) or The Vampire Lovers (1970) or other sexually explicit grindhouse staples like Daughters of Darkness (1970). Male homosexuality tended to be even harder to see, unless portrayed explicitly – Curt McDowell’s hardcore opus Thundercrack!(1975) – or for laughs – Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). But Todd Haynes’ Poison is the first gay themed horror film to not patronize or sensationalize its material – which is saying a lot considering that it earned itself an NC-17 rating.