Carol (Short) Review
Comedy, 7 mins
This is an (almost scene-for-scene) parody of the 2015 Todd Haynes film.
It’s refreshing to see someone expose Carol for who she really is: a self-indulgent rich girl who treats people as if they were toys.
Whether you loved or hated Todd Haynes’ 2015 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Carol, Krissy Mahan’s Playmobile parody of it is a welcome criticism of a movie that’s been blindly embraced by the film academy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on the side that loved it, but it’s refreshing to see someone expose Carol for who she really is: a self-indulgent rich girl who treats people as if they were toys.
This is not the first time Mahan uses Playmobiles in place of real actors. A quick scan of her brilliantly named blog, dykumentary.com, will reveal that she’s made at least three other shorts using this technique. However, it’s especially poignant in this instance given Haynes’ own use of the technique in his earlier 1988 Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an over-simplified version of the singer’s eating disorder*. Mahan’s parody seems to do to Carol what Haynes does to eating disorders, that is, stripping it down to some basic and simplified concept.
But, unlike Haynes’ 1988 film, the result is hilarious. Phrases such as “I shoot guns when I’m upset,” or “I’ll just casually lose these expensive gloves: everything’s replaceable!” take real moments from the original film and give them a different meaning altogether. What makes this even better is the flawless impression Mahan does of Blanchett’s voice, especially the unforgettable line “We are NOT ugly people” (which, as Mahan shows, seems to be quite the statement coming from someone who just called her ex to pick up the ‘Shop-girl’ she left in a motel…).
The only thing I would warn viewers is to not come away from Mahan’s parody with a binary view of Carol, i.e. that it’s either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Just like Tom Ripley, Carol is another one of Patricia Highsmith’s complex – and manipulative – characters. The skill in Highsmith’s art lies in the way in which she invites readers to fall in love and even sympathize with these otherwise repulsive characters. And this is something that Haynes successfully translated onto the screen.
On that same note, and here is where I agree with Mahan, it’s important not to praise Carol uncritically. Just like it’s not all ‘bad’ it’s not all ‘good’ either. This was a trap the predominantly white hetero male film academy seemed more than happy to fall into. They didn’t seem to mind turning a blind eye to the class and race implications of the film, so long as they got an LGBTQ diversity token in for that year. Mahan points this out remarkably well in the sex scene (never thought I’d watch Playmobiles having sex, but hey…), which she accompanies with the following text: “This HOT lesbian sex scene was CENSORED for the Oscars television audiences.” It kind of says it all: “we’ll take your lesbian film so long as you make it palatable for us.”
Let’s hope for Mahan’s sake that Playmobile sex doesn’t upset them too much.
*In Haynes’ defense, it hasn’t been until recently that the complexity and range of eating disorders has been examined and discussed in a more public discourse.
You can find Carol and other similar shorts in this year’s Wicked Queer Boston Film Festival.
Watch the trailer
This article was written by:
Isidora has written for various student papers, offering articles from film reviews to opinion pieces that often had Latin American cultural events or productions as the focus of the piece.
She has just graduated from her MPhil in Comparative Literatures from the University of Cambridge, and will be going on to do her PhD in Hispanic Studies in Toronto.