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Saturday, January 14, 2017

ARE GIRLS ELECTRIC?

The Power by Naomi Alderman is part science fiction, part thriller and part feminism reborn as a morality tale in which all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts most of all no matter the gender of those that wield it. In this instance, teenage girls, and, eventually through them, all women, - the ‘power’ being electricity generated by a skein of knotted muscle and veins that grow under the skin and across the collar bones of girls and becomes the source through which, girls, all girls, can learn to discharge electrical power from their hands and fingertips. A power that, handled correctly, can hurt a man, wound a man, kill a man - from that beginning women begin to take the societal power away from men changing society, religion and male / female relationships, forever.

Told through the lives of three women and a man whose stories, like the skeins from which their power derives, are intertwined and seemingly damned by their newly acquired strength. This is particularly so in the case of Tunde, a young man and aspiring photo-journalist from Nigeria whose Youtube video of a girl taking down a man who was pestering her in a supermarket and reducing him to a gibbering wreck bleeding from his eyes and mouth after she has touched him, sets the worlds’ media ablaze and ushers in what will become known as the Day of the Girls…

From here on Alderman’s impressive cast of characters, Roxy the daughter of a London gangster, Allie (or Mother Eve as she becomes) who morphs from abused teenage orphan to the leader of a new, feminised take on christianity, to Margot an American senator whose troubled daughter Jocelyn lacks the ability to use her power, to Tunde, who documents the world’s rapid shift, which, like an electrical Arab Spring, moves from patriarchy to matriarchy in a series of tumultuous set pieces, not least the collapse of male controlled countries like Saudi Arabia.

The Power is also savagely violent in places and as the world shifts from male control, with its inherent, endemic violence, to female control, which unleashes its own, equally brutal, female take on revenge. Now, hundreds of years of being an abused and subservient sex, of being prostituted and beaten, is crystallised into an almost bestial discharge aimed straight at the heart of the male id, which, at its most basic, means his cock. 

Here, in this world, men are raped by women who use their electrical powers to induce an erection in the unwilling male victim and then, when satiated, are shown killing the man in scenes that only mimic mans' savage raping of women in wars through the centuries. Elsewhere men are tortured, limbs and organs are fried or severed, eyes burnt out. Men, in their turn, plant bombs and resort to terrorism and war in a futile effort to return the world to the old order. Alderman hammers this home in scenes that are as disturbing as they brutal:

“The woman on top cups his balls and dick in her palm. She says something. Laughs. The others laugh, too. She tickles him there with the tip of a finger, making a little crooning sound, as if she wants him to enjoy it. He can’t speak; his throat is bulging. They might have broken his windpipe already. She puts her head to one side, makes a sad face at him. She might as well have said in any language in the world. ‘What’s the matter? Can’t get it up?’ He tries to kick his heels to get away from her, but it’s too late for that”

In this world, as the initial shock of women’s new power and status sinks in, so men try to fight back, underground groups form, the Saudi King funds rebellion to take back his kingdom and the military tries to hardness and control women’s power to use it as a weapon. Yet the dynamic between men and women has flipped and no banging of fists by the old patriarchy can change that. 

“He sees the dark eyes of the women watching him from the factory. He knows something then. A simple fact that should have been obvious from the first, had he not been pushing the knowledge from him. The women are not glad to see what he has done, or that he could do it. The fucking bitches are just starring at him: their mouths as closed as the earth, their eyes as blank as the sea. They walk down the stairs inside the factory in orderly file and march towards him as one. Darrell lets out a sound, a hunted cry, and he runs. And the women are after him.”

Yet, despite the violence, this is a serious and highly readable novel that moves at a cracking pace. Its ideas and the societies that it imagines, believable, real and, at times, frightening. The shift of emphasis from the male Jesus to the female Mother Mary and Eve, the first woman, not just apt, but in the circumstances described, absolutely right. 

In some ways The Power reminded me of books like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale, Joanna Russ’s The Female Man, of John Wyndham’s The Trouble with Lichen and Edmund Cooper’s almost forgotten novel of the early seventies, Who Needs Men or Gender Genocide as it was titled for its US release - a dark tale of a future societies extermination of men by women. That said, The Power is totally its own book, and a shockingly good one at that! One that not only provokes, but whose story and characters stay with you long after the last page has been read and the book finished, and I cannot recommended it highly enough. Fabulous!

© Nigel Wingrove 2017

The Power  by Naomi Alderman is published by Viking Books

342 pages  £12.99

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Enemies of the People…

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
Joseph Stalin

When is european democracy not a democracy? When the citizens of its nation states go against the beliefs of the left-leaning, liberal establishment which controls most of the countries that make-up the european union would be the answer. Or, as is the case in the UK, where 52% of the population voted for Brexit against the wishes of the establishment and the metropolitan elite, the establishment, supported by a Kabal of rich lawyers, celebrities and leftist sections of the UK’s intelligentsia, seek to neuter, delay and castigate its troublesome discontents with a mixture of legalese, small print and politically correct name calling. Smoke and mirrors in other words. 

The essential effect in all cases being that if the people follow the rules, obey the law and cast their vote at the ballot box, if what they want goes against the established liberal orthodoxy then their vote and their views will be rubbished and sneeringly dismissed as ‘populism’. Or the result itself will be queried as having been engineered by a combination of fake news stories and post-truth lies. If that fails then the establishment will claim that those who voted against the orthodox view, were, in fact, too stupid to know what they doing. The net result being that the established liberal order and ruling elites will do everything in their power to ignore the wishes of the people and to crush, mute and censor anyone who says otherwise.

In the United States where Donald Trump’s surprise victory sent the left into a bizarre mixture of denial, grief, apocalyptic rage and whining on an epic scale there have been Herculean attempts to overturn, discredit and refute the result; with everything from recounts and Russian hacking being used or cited as a way of overturning or undermining the result. 

Yet, as this wave or rightwing ‘populism’ grows, so the liberal left, which has effectively held sway over the West’s cultural, social and political output for the last 50 or so years, is feeling its grip on the levers of power, both political and cultural, loosening, and it doesn’t like it. Not only does the liberal establishment not like this rising rightwing insurgency, it will have none of it and will fight tooth and nail to stop it.

Indeed now that the initial shock of the Brexit win and Donald Trump’s election victory are wearing off, so the crying, stamping of feet and gnashing of teeth has given way to a whole plethora of tactics designed not only to stop Brexit and tame Trump but to vilify and fraught the resurgent right everywhere. Already charges of hate crime, hate speech, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, antisemitism and Islamophobia are being hurled around like verbal confetti at everyone from Steve Bannon, the ebullient founder of the Breibart news site, and soon to be President-elect Trump’s chief strategist and senior counsellor, to anyone on social media who dares to post an opinion critical of the liberal orthodoxy.

Right wing heretics are now being sought out by a kind of liberal left Inquisition who are scouring Twitter and Facebook in search of unbelievers to haul before their appointed judges, the ‘enemies of the people’, as some UK newspapers called them. Thought crimes are being merged with actual crimes, as in the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and the alleged people who stupidly tweeted their support or joy at her death, actions that are now being used to further the catch-all nature of 'hate speech' as a crime. Hate speech or thought crime, that is speech or ideas critical of the establishment, or the voicing of ideas which are opposed to those of the liberal intelligentsia, will soon ensure that free speech is effectively legislated out of existence, along with as many rightwing political groups and parties as the liberal Inquisition can concoct a case against. 

Only the right it seems can do or say evil. Left wing activists can mock and spew vile hatred at the death of Margaret Thatcher, scream ‘scum’ and spit at Conservative supporters attending their annual party conference or beat up and violently assault those they accuse of being rightwing or fascist, seemingly with impunity. Universities and student groups now ban anyone whose views are even vaguely rightwing or just deemed controversial, UKip and Brexit supporters are shouted down as racists or dismissed as neothandrals, too thick to warrant being heard.

Multimillionaire hedge fund owners, like the Guyana born Gina Miller and her husband, Alan Miller, joint owners of the wealth management company SCM Private, can use their money to thwart the will of the english people and usurp the UK’s democracy with impunity. In turn these two unaccountable millionaires are cheered on by their leftwing liberal supporters who would seemingly stoop to any hypocrisy in order to stop Brexit. 

Yet the delicious irony is that soon, events in Italy, Holland, and France, may herald the implosion and collapse of the european union regardless of whether the UK stays or leaves or the actions of the Remainer’s nefarious millionaires. In which case there would be no european club left to belong to.

Indeed as the working class, the disenfranchised and the untermensch of Europe and the US fight back against the liberal elites we can expect to see the establishment become ever more vicious and draconian as they try to hold back and reverse the demands of a resurgent populous. Expect to see more censorship, more arrests, more legislation, and more euphemisms created as liberal lawyers invent and twist words to create new crimes and misdemeanours as a way of protecting cultural Marxism’s place in the world, and silencing those that challenge it. 

© Nigel Wingrove 2017



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Petite Meller lands on Planet Gong!

If bands could musically beget children then those children would, like their flesh and blood counterparts in the real world, display not just some of the musical characteristics of their 
parents but probably some of their inherent eccentricities as well. In which case the YouTube-proclaimed ‘Aryan pedo nightmare’ that is the French phenomenon Petite Meller would be the 
love-child of the hippy-dippy band Gong circa 1970.

Meller is 22 with an MA in philosophy, a fabulously distinctive and accented gallic vocal sound, which, when coupled with her Lady Gaga style theatrics and personal raison d’être to turn ‘libidinal unconscious dreams’ into reality while flirting with terrorism, race and Lolitaesque sex, make her hard to ignore. 

This anarchic approach to life, which The Guardian newspaper dismissed as pop with a ‘creepy aesthetic’, comes alive in Meller’s videos, where, usually scantily clad, cheeks rouged in pink blusher
and brandishing a variety of inappropriate props, she cavorts and her dances her way through a series of improbable landscapes that have included; a Kenyan village where she danced with the local school children and kissed a giraffe for Baby Love, New York City for Backpack, a geriatric rest home in Florida for Barbaric, and, most recently, she played with reindeers and the local tribesmen in the grassy plains of Mongolia for her single, The Flute. The Flute also sees Meller wearing a grass skirt and a pointy hat that, has, metaphorically at least, Gong written all over it.

While this global dancing has upset some who see it as ‘cultural appropriation’ and worry that Meller’s white flesh denotes a hidden racism when displayed next to her black co-dancers in videos like Baby Love, Meller undoubtably has a unique visual style that is rapidly becoming her own signature look and the only hidden message it really displays is a true celebration of being alive.

Now, having spent the last twelve or so releasing one infectiously dancey pop single after another, Meller has released Lil Empire, an equally quirky and contagious album. Almost every track is filled with a delirious pop sound; Milk Bath (cute and bonkers), America (like Baby Love, only more so), Argentina (softer, with the merest hint of Madonna’s La Isla Bonita), Geez (fab, play it to death), as well as all of her previously released singles. This is an album brimming with joie de vivre and a fabulous, almost gospelish pop sound that demands to be played loudly, again and again. Pointy hats optional. 


@ Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Flute - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLwgeV7dXOI
Baby Love - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDBJVgIVPcs
Barbaric - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRj_4YZXLQY

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Life, Love and Keeling Over

Hiromi Kawakami’s first English language book was called Strange Weather in Tokyo and published in 2014, (in Japan it was titled The Teacher’s Briefcase) and was a gentle, touching, almost surreal and dreamlike story of a thirty something woman slowly falling in love with an unassuming retired school teacher in his seventies who she sees in a café where she eats regularly. The Nakano Thrift Shop treads a similar path. only more so.

In The Nakano Thrift Shop, Hiromi’s narrator is again a young woman, this time one who kind of, hesitantly, tentatively, possibly, falls in love with the twenty something Takeo, her co-worker at Mr Nakano’s thrift shop. Called Hitomi, our heroine and narrator, drifts, not so much through life but rather life drifts through her, as Kawakami’s small cast of characters; Mr Nakano, the roguish womanising thrift shop owner, Masayo, his artistic, doll-making, older sister, Sakiko, Mr Nakano’s sensual and beautiful lover, and the awkwardly shy Takeo, all gently impinge on Hitomi’s consciousness.

Kawakami has an extraordinarily way of drawing you into her etherial world, where, although nothing really happens, when they do, little transgressions or events cause ripples that spread seamlessly throughout the whole book and stay with you long after the story has finished. In Strange Weather in Tokyo it was the descriptions of food and the cherry blossom that heralds the arrival of spring that permeated, whereas in The Nakano Thrift Shop it is the inconsequential bric-a-brac and the minutiae of life that you eventually cherish. Until, as Mr Nakano’s sister says, we keel over;

Masayo wrapped up by saying, ’That’s why, when I haven’t heard from someone 
for a while, the first thing that occurs to me is that they might have just keeled over.’

Keeled over. I repeated Masayo’s phrase, in the same tone she had used.

‘You know?’ Masayo suppressed a chuckle as she peered into my face.

I-I don’t think he’s dead, I replied, shrinking into my seat.

Beautifully written and faultlessly translated by Allison Markin Powell, both Strange Weather in Tokyo and The Nakano Thrift Shop are a poignant, funny and effortless reminder of the pleasures to be found even in the banalities of modern life. 

The covers to both books are by the Japanese photographer Natsumi Hayashi who specialises in taking slightly spooky and etherial pictures of Japanese girls levitating and floating and whose imagery seems the perfect visualisation of Hiromi Kawakami’s novels. See more of her work here: yowayowacamera.com


© Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Nakano Thrift Shop
Hiromi Kawakami

260 pages, Paperback
Portobello Books
£12.99
2016

Strange Weather in Toyko
Hiromi Kawakami

176 pages, Paperback
Portobello Books
£7.99
2014

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tears in the Day, Screams in the Night

Chris Petit’s The Butchers of Berlin, is a brutal and disquieting take on a city and a people inured by years of terror, violence and vicious anti-semitism, who find survival in indifference, and sustenance in betrayal. 

Set in the death throes of the Third Reich during 1943, in an increasingly dangerous, demoralised
and bombed-out Berlin. Here, food and basic necessities are in short supply and the cities infrastructure is run less and less by German men and more and more by slave labour brought in from conquered nations. Slaves who would like nothing more than to hurt their German hosts and who provide a potential mass of suspects to the grisly murders at the books core. 

Centred on a detective and an SS judge assigned to investigate a series of extreme murders; the bodies had been frayed, butchered, and their skulls smashed to a pulp, the Butchers of Berlin, soon expands its remit to take in the regime’s round-ups and deportations of Berlin’s remaining Jews and the desperate attempts by some to evade capture and stay hidden from the authorities. Alongside the skinless bodies and vanished Jews, a German warden is also murdered, a police informer is found castrated, there is corruption in the Gestapo, and a counterfeiting racket is threatening chaos. 

It is though the inclusion of two young Jewish women, Sybil and Lore, in the story that truly evokes our sympathy after they find themselves at the mercy of the Gestapo and its local commander, the sadistic Gersten, who is happy to use torture and threats to cajole them into becoming ‘catchers’; Jews who seek out and betray other Jews that have become ‘U-boats’, that is Jews hiding as non-Jews. In particular, Petit brings in the real-life ‘catcher', the beautiful blonde Stella Kübler as a character. In reality Kübler's striking good looks and vivacious nature helped her ensnare and betray some 3000 of her fellow Jews to the Gestapo, who in turn nicknamed her ‘Blonde Poison’. 

It is in this mashing of real characters like Kübler, along with Goebbels, Himmler, and the agricultural minister and man behind the Blood and Soil (Blut und Boden) movement, Walter Darré, who all feature walk-on parts, with actual events and evocative depictions of wartime Berlin that jar with the books over-the-top emphasis on gross-out descriptions of butchery and slaughter. These forays into Grand Guignol territory tend to move the book away from a world war two crime thriller into straight horror territory. A pairing that weakens and detracts from the books strengths.

Chris Petit is unusual in that he combines writing with directing, particularly TV movies and short documentaries, and the first two thirds of The Butchers of Berlin reads like a well-paced thriller script, its short, punchy chapters making for concise scenes that in turn make for an exciting, gripping, story. Real, edge-of-your-seat stuff, or in this case, a page-turner. Then, a bit like a film that runs out steam, Petit spends the final third part of the story laboriously tying up all the strands while totally over-egging the blood and gore to an almost cartoonish level in the buildup to the books, or perhaps that should be, films, climatic ending. 

Petit is perhaps best known for the Northern Ireland based thriller, The Psalm Killer (1997), which, like The Butchers of Berlin, had at its core almost bestial descriptions of violence, though involving a biblically inspired killer operating during the Troubles rather than crazed Nazis. Yet the violence of 
the The Psalm Killer seemed, despite its graphic nature, to fit within the context of the story, yet in the Butchers of Berlin, where in reality the most appalling slaughter the world has ever seen was being carried out in the background, Petit’s horror seems not just crass but disrespectful of the real events and that is a shame because with a little, less is more, this could have been a great thriller instead of one that ran out of oomph!

© Nigel Wingrove 2016

The Butchers of Berlin
Chris Petit

496 pages,
£12.99 
Published by Simon & Schuster, UK 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

They are your children...

These children that come at you with knives, they are your children - Charles Manson

In 2019 it will be, amazingly, fifty years since Charles Manson’s band of hippy-dippy losers set about viciously murdering white residents living the American dream in the Californian sunshine, including the actress Sharon Tate who was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant at the time she was killed, in order, they hoped, to spark a race war. 

Yet all these years later the horror of these murders still resonates and has recently been the inspiration for a number of Manson inspired projects including the TV series Aquarius and, most successfully, the novel, The Girls by Emma Cline. It is now the source for another book, American
Girls, by Alison Umminger.

Both debut novels, The Girls and American Girls (titled My Favourite Manson Girl in the UK) are by young female writers and both eschew Manson in favour of the teenage girls that hung around him like wide-eyed groupies and who would, ultimately, act as his surrogate assassins dispensing death as brutally as any man. 

In The Girls, Manson’s female followers were a kind of cipher for Evie the books young
anti-heroine whereas in American Girls, Anna, the books fifteen year-old narrator, is every
teenage girl and, as such, every American girl is a potential Manson girl.

Less haunting and etherial than The Girls, Umminger’s novel centres on the trials and tribulations
of Anna who steals money off her mother’s girlfriends’ credit card in order to fly from her home
in Atlanta to Los Angeles so that she can stay with Delia, her glamorous, struggling actress older sister. From here Anna progresses through the usual teenage angst and love hate relationships with her mother, always a text or email away, and her sister whose complicated love-life with aspiring filmmaker boyfriends and low budget horror producers provide an entertaining and, at times, very funny backdrop to the Manson theme that pervades the book.

Umminger also manages in a few words to clarify the awfulness of what ‘the girls’ actually did all those years ago, as when Anna is unknowingly confronted with the graves of Sharon Tate and her unborn son, Paul Richard Polanski.

The gravestone marked four bodies. The top read “In Loving Memory” and the left side continued with “Our loving daughter and beloved wife of Roman, Sharon Tate Polanski”. The dates she lived were separated by the thin slivers of a cross, 1943 - 1969. Beside that were the dates for her mother and, at the bottom, her sister. But as haunting as it was, the name that knocked me down was just below Sharon’s, “Paul Richard Polanski”, followed by “their baby,” and no dates beneath the name. No dates below this tiny person who both was and wasn’t, but who had a name.

On Sharon Tate after watching her in Valley of the Dolls she brutally and effectively says:

She went from being a body on the screen to a body in a bag

And on Manson girl Susan Atkins who years later claimed that she didn't kill Sharon Tate, or anyone else, that she had, in fact, just pretended to have killed them so that she could be the centre of attention. So that she would fit in with the rest of the girls...

If you crossed 'Mean Girls' with the 'Lord of the Flies' and weaponised all of them, then you pretty much had the Manson girls. 

Umminger, like Cline, has, by making the Manson girls so everyday, managed to make them both more accessible and more monstrous, so that ultimately they really are potentially just, not so much American girls, as any girl.

American Girls 
Alison Umminger

304 pages

US edition - Flatiron Books $17.99
UK edition, as My Favourite Manson Girl - Atom Books - £12.99


© Nigel Wingrove 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

GIRLS - SCREAMING AND DREAMING

Without any planning and totally coincidentally I seemed to have beeen immersed in feminine, or rather female culture, both written and visually, over the last two days, with both genres, a book and a film, offering extraordinary portrayals of women.  The Girls is a new novel by the American writer Emma Cline and uses the Charles Manson murders as inspiration, whereas Carola film by Todd Haynes, is the story of a lesbian love affair. Yet despite their differences they are bizarrely similar. Both centre on the attraction of a young girl for an older, stronger woman, and both stories are played-out in dream-like, past worlds that are both haunting and strangely enchanting, and which, when they conclude, leave you needing time to emerge back into this world…


The Girls

A debut novel by Emma Cline that is both compelling and repelling at the same time. The Girls is inspired by, but not about, the Manson girls, the women that were a part of Charles Manson’s family and who would brutally kill a number of people, including the actress Sharon Tate, on Manson’s orders. Set now and during the summer of 1969 when the Manson murders took place, Cline has created a dream-like parallel world in which the central character, the fourteen year-old Evelyn, or Evie as the ‘girls’ call her, becomes fascinated by Suzanne, a feral but beautiful girl who she sees one day walking in her local park with two other girls. Cline describes their arrival:

There was a suggestion of otherworldliness hovering around her, a dirty smock dress barely covering her ass. she was flanked by a skinny redhead and an older girl, dressed with the same shabby afterthought. As if dredged from a lake. All their cheap rings like a second set of  knuckles. They were messing with an uneasy threshold, prettiness and ugliness at the same time, and a ripple of awareness followed them through the park. Mothers glancing around for their children, moved by some feeling they couldn’t name. Women reaching for their boyfriends’ hands. The sun spiked through the trees, like always - the drowsy willows, the hot wind gusting over the picnic blankets - but the familiarity of the day was disturbed by the path the girls cut across the regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water.

Cline writes beautifully and cleverly, managing in a few choice words to convey the alienation of adolescence and the threat of the outsider and wraps all of this into an etherial and languid sense of menace that builds up around Evie as she becomes part of the ‘family’. In many ways Cline’s 
decision to create her own take on the Manson cult, hers centres on a man named Russell, and to focus on the girls, and in particular Evie’s infatuation with Suzanne, brings a powerful and refreshingly raw feeling to the whole Manson mythology. Equally, by eschewing the actual
Manson story and creating her own, borrowing elements of real events and mixing these with her ‘girls’,  Cline has been able to bring a real sense of California’s dreamy callousness to the shocking murders that follow, and Cline’s succinct and brutal descriptions of killing are as disturbing as any I have read.

Yet, despite the murders, or perhaps because of them, The Girls, is essentially about teenage girls, their clothes, their smell, their struggles to please an older, charismatic man, their desperate faith in his vision of the world, their fragility and vulnerableness to sexual exploitation and to the mores and ideas of the time. Unnervingly so given that Cline, a Californian girl herself, is only 27 and yet The Girls is perfectly of the sixties and reminds us that beneath all the talk of peace and love real horror was waiting.

I only got out of bed after I heard the girl. Her voice was high and innocuous. Though it shouldn’t have been comforting - Suzanne and the others had been girls, and that hadn’t helped anybody.

The Girls by Emma Cline is published by Chatto & Windus (£12.99, $27.00)


Carol

Carol, director Todd Haynes’ visually beautiful interpretation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel of a lesbian love, The Price of Salt (also known as Carol) is, like a passionate kiss, breathtakingly good and will leave you shivering with lingering emotion long after the end credits have finished. Set in the early 1950s and centred in and around New York, the Carol of the title is a wealthy, glamorous woman (Cate Blanchett), who is in the midst of getting a divorce, from her neglectful husband (Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights, Homeland) and befriends, then falls in love with, a shopgirl and aspiring photographer called Therese (Rooney Mara - The Social Network, Pan, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). 

Carol is powerful but not predatory, glamorous but not glam, and beneath her monied confidence, vulnerable and frightened. Frightened of losing her only child in an increasingly fractious custody battle with her husband who both knows of her lesbianism and, reluctantly, is prepared to use it against her in court if necessary. Against this backdrop she is also falling deeply in love with the much younger Therese, whose rawness and innocence, at first amusing, then captivating, has unleashed an all consuming and highly believable love in both women for each other, a love that will either playout or crush them in its embrace.

Touted and praised as a gay film about two women having a relationship at a time when lesbianism was barely mentioned, let alone understood or tolerated, Carol doesn’t flaunt or bang the gay rights drum, rather it is what it is, a love story between two women who suffer trials and tribulations as they struggle, not so much for acceptance, but to make their relationship work in the same way a straight couple would and it is all the stronger for that. Mara in particular, looking like the reincarnation of Audrey Hepburn, though with a rawer sexuality, has an extraordinary presence and natural beauty that is mesmerising and which Haynes manages to exploit in a myriad of tiny ways that, coupled with Carter Burwell’s hypnotic score, make watching Carol, like watching a half remembered memory of someone you too loved but who was always, tantalisingly, just out of reach. 

Simply fabulous.



On AMAZON PRIME and DVD / Blu-ray (Studio Canal)