Walking out of “Carol,” director Todd Haynes’s newest film, I had to laugh about our need to sneer at the past no matter how much we fetishize it. Progress is elliptical, not linear, though the LGBT community can be forgiven for temporarily forgetting this fact. This year alone we’ve achieved civil rights inconceivable only decades before–when AIDS patients were treated by the government as if they’d earned their fate, and simply being gay could deny us of our legal right to work, live, find shelter, and, of course, love.
Amid this unprecedented groundswell of mainstream acceptance comes Haynes’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 eponymous novel about a love affair between the titular married socialite and Therese, a shopgirl twenty years her junior. Originally published under a pseudonym and with a different title, the book not only reflects the obstacles facing a lesbian couple in the mid-twentieth century but the holistic confusion facing any woman coming of age – when the world claims her body and sexuality before she’s grown comfortable with them herself. Students of queer and feminist literature have long prized the novel’s precision and defiant optimism, and for good reason. It is a quiet tour de force that remains radical today. Continue Reading →