The Look of ‘Carol’: Power in Glances

Carol is on Netflix and that means you should have seen it by now.

Carol is a film of beautiful nuances and romance that director Todd Haynes bestows upon his audience by counseling delicate acting and savvy stylistic choices.

One of these choices is the focus on eyes. Using the cinematography as POV shots while adding the prop of the camera makes its gaze OUR gaze, but even when the film technique isn’t altering our vision, the subject is. So much of the film’s acting (coy and secretive as it must be) is told through looks. Small movements and glances contain all the power of love and death.

Observation is key in the film and editor Roberto Bra made a short video compiling some of the glances that are always the focus of Haynes’ shots. Some of the same movements can have completely different meaning based on the framing of the actors, their blocking in the frame, and their surroundings. Making the audience become one with the characters – through the eyes first, then the camera – enables powerful connection and empathy with the romance at the film’s core.

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