Framing is the key component of Carol's cinematography. Todd Haynes and cinematographer Edward Lachman often use it to visually enlarge the chasm between Therese and Carol's worlds. During her first visit to the titular character's house, Therese watches Carol play with her daughter through not one, but two arches. This instance of occultation reveals what lies at the heart of Carol's conflict--barriers. The blossoming of Carol and Therese's relationship is obstructed by a number of barriers, the least formidable of which is the societal disapproval, that a lesser film would've fixated on. Instead, the film's romance is thwarted by a series of believable trade-offs that ground the otherworldly beauty of their chemistry in real-world messiness. Yet the film is ultimately a testament to love's ability to surmount these obstacles, an axiom Haynes conveys through the framing of the film's last shots; Carol and Therese gaze at one another, both placed in the center of the frame and look directly into the camera. There is no longer any occultation. The barriers have been transcended.
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