Know I have not posted much in about two years time but this is sort of a sore subject for me. I try to not to dismiss book to movie translations. I can forgive most things that get lost in translation. I understand that that movies have to cut, change, and twist things for time. Most good movies based on books handle this by taking out the filler but keeping the main themes of the book so that someone who has no intention or has not read the book can still enjoy the film without filling lost but also pleasing the fans that love or least enjoyed the book by recreating and including their favorite moments on the big screen.
Given that I would like to start off saying that I do not think Carol is a bad book to movie adaption. In fact I would say I enjoyed the film but I will say the cliche answer of the book was way better. I do admit that I have said the reverse with certain books vs movies. So it all really depends. With this one ,though, the winner is clearly the book. In fact I put off watching the film til I was finished with the book since I was enjoying the book so much and did not want the ending spoiled for me.
In the short of it, rating wise the book got a solid 4.5 or 5 no question whereas the movie (given that I read the book first ) gets more of a 3. Will say both frustrated me but the important thing here is that both frustrated me in different ways . The book frustrated me in the way that the characters were overly human and made dumb mistakes where you sit there yelling at them for being so damn stupid . The movie on the other hand made me frustrated with the changes . So while the book got points for making me frustrated because it made the characters feel more real and thus more invested in the story, my frustrated in the film sadly made me enjoy the film less . I was not a big fan of how the movie started. I am usually ok with films starting at the end and working their way back through the story . Here though I just didn't think it worked. The important aspect of the book is that first meeting . That first bit of contact that sparks everything. In the movie , work back to that after being thrown in at the end and just to me at least it was beyond jarring and not in a good way.
Another reason the film made me frustrated is that it commits the sin of changing things not to save time but just for the hell of it. What do I mean by this ? Well, in the book Therese is an aspiring set designer whereas in the film she is an aspiring photographer. Now to me this change just feels pointless. It is basically exchanging one thing for the other for no real reason other than again for the hell of it. I don't see how it saves time going that route . In fact , it creates a problem . In the book there is a scene where Therese after I would say the falling out with Carol is at a party where the actress for the play she is designing the set for is. The whole scene is a reversal of her meeting Carol. Here the actress is smitten with her in near the same way she was smitten with Carol that first time seeing her. Now given that they change her to being a photographer instead it now makes no sense to have that actress but they still needed the scene so what do they do? Well take on a random friend of a friend at a party and there you go. I do agree that they could have taken scenes out and still had her be a set designer . So I am just confused why they felt the change was needed to begin with.
Another sin the movie commits is forgetting or rushing main plot details. One of the big ones being rushing the plot point with the private detective that is following them. In the book , it is revealed slowly. Therese sees the same man twice, which is odd but just assumes she is seeing things but no is revealed that she is right and this man has been following them for awhile. How does the movie handle it? Like thing mentioned before tact him on , have the whole confrontation over an done in one scene and that is that. Now again I can get cutting things for time but holy hell a main point in the book is that because this man is following and being paid to record them a massive wedge being Carol and Therese is made to the point that Therese spends a good deal of time alone when Carol finally or is basically forced back to New York. Now again could have trimmed that down . Would not be hard to do ..but nope more or less the film cuts out all of the time Therese is alone and basically has here return home what seems like days ..instead of a month after Carol does. Cutting all of that time out also cuts out the point that in that time Therese grew and changed. She grew more into herself. She grew into someone who was more confident in herself .
The movie also does the thing that drives me nuts in both books and movies. There is the trope of character A being an innocent virgin to contrast the person they are in love with who is a more experienced lover. I can get this trope to a point but it still annoys me. Person A can have past lovers and still be deeply in love with the person the author wants them to be with or the person they are meant to be with. The movie writes it off that Richard and Therese have maybe fooled around but have yet to have sex. Now the book heavily implies they have had sex and at one point would have again if Richard had come up to her flat. She even makes a comment to Carol that what they had done together is better than sleeping with men . Therese's sexual awaking does not lose it's meaning just because she has slept with Richard . Now I am not saying she had to sleep with Richard in order to know for sure that she was lesbian or least more attracted to other women . What I am saying is that she can have had sex before and still had just as powerful of an experience with Carol. Not being a virgin does not undo the full impact of that experience.
Then there is the ending of both. I know some people probably disliked or even hated the ending for the book. Alot of people like endings that are nicely tied up and leave nothing to the imagination. That is more than understandable. I am like that with certain books. Given the time the book is supposed to take place and everything that has lead up to that moment think how the book ends fits well and still remains happy and hopeful. In fact it was the ending of the book that took it from a 4 to a 5 for me. More or less the movie ending is the same but given what they left out of the movie the impact of it does not hit you near as hard.
What they left out is the main failing of the movie. Again if they were just cutting filler bits for time I would have probably enjoyed the movie way more than I did . As it stands though it feels like a jumble of details stuck to together . While I liked the movie version of the characters they are stripped of their full character development and come across flat compared to their book counterparts. I would suggest still watching the movie because it is still an enjoyable watch but still more highly suggest reading the book.