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A Belgian girl, Carol, works as a manicurist at a London beauty salon. While having lunch, a good looking young man, Colin, spots her and makes a date for another evening. She shares a flat with her sister Helen. Her sister's married lover, Michael, brings out her dislike of men which she cannot explain to Colin. Michael takes Helen abroad for a holiday. Left alone in their flat, Carol's moments of catalepsy and hallucination increase and deepen into madness. Written by
This film, the first Polanski made in English, works so well, and for so many different reasons, that I felt like I had to watch it again as soon as it ended.
From the first moments of the movie, Polanski sets up the key conflict, cutting between shots of Catherine Denuve's gorgeous face and of the things she is seeing, all of which are almost frighteningly ugly by comparison. After fifteen minutes of this, it becomes clear why Denuve's Carol is unable to cope with anything in the world around her, and why she is so dependent on her sister and her attractive female co-worker, who provide the film's only beauty other than Denuve. When her sister leaves her alone, her surroundings decay further into ugliness, sending her deeper into her madness. I loved the way that despite Carol's growing insanity, Polanski keeps going back to closeups of her face, which remains beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that no one can seem to notice that she is clearly very deranged.
The only question the film left me with is this: How could Carol possibly survived for an entire lifetime up till the point where the film began?
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