The idea for the Alternative Christmas Film Advent Calendar (there’s probably a much simpler title out there) is simple; a film each day in the build up to Christmas that isn’t your standard Christmas film. Not like The Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf or Die Hard (that’s an argument for another day, or year), but one that might be set at Christmas but the holiday isn’t a major factor in the story of the film, or it’s simply mentioned a couple of times and made reference to throughout.
As the week of Christmas is one day away and everything around us seems hectic, especially after the last two days of rather unique and different alternative Christmas films (Brazil and Anna And The Apocalypse), it seems that we should introduce something a bit calmer into the mix. So, behind today’s door of the alternative Christmas film advent calendar is Carol.
There’s a great deal within Todd Hayne’s acclaimed, Oscar nominated drama Carol that could almost make it a general Christmas film instead of an alternative one. However, the film itself isn’t entirely set at the Christmas period. While this could make it simply a non-Christmas film a number of the main events that lead into the relationship between the two central characters occur at Christmas, the first meeting being based around the buying of a Christmas present. And in fact around half of the film, if not a bit more, happens around the festive season, and just after in the period between the holiday and New Year – as is the case with previous entry in this small series Trading Places.
The central relationship is, of course, integral to the film, and when mixed with the wonderful, warm and christmassy cinematography creates an even warmer and passionate feel. One of comfort that brings the viewer and forms a connection with the two wonderfully performed central figures – that take the form of Oscar nominated Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, both of whom are simply delightful in this film. Bringing in pourings of joy and emotion with every scene that their in.
In many ways if it wasn’t for this Christmassy look and feel at the start of the film this wouldn’t be the same film. It simply wouldn’t have the same feel and effect. The hope that Christmas brings, and the idea of it bringing people together – literally shown at the spark of the relationship between central lovers Carol and Therese. One that heightens the tensions between them and those around them, especially as the film is set in the 1950’s and Carol herself has a husband and daughter. Everything comes together to create something even more dramatic, emotional and engaging. All being sparked by, and stemming from the themes of Christmas that help to create much of the look and feel of this passionate, thoughtful, carefully made and all-round captivating feature.