The best parts of any romance lie in the details. In regards to details, I’m talking about the glances, the brushes of fingertips, the way someone conducts him or herself around certain people, and the attention that he or she gives to that certain someone. These make up the language of love, and what’s fascinating about them is that they can be both overt and subtle, depending on the amount of attention you’re paying to a relationship. Now, when you have a taboo love story, those details matter all the more, especially when the couple in question can’t always be open. Indeed, that’s the relationship at play in Carol, the delicate and intense adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking lesbian romance novel, The Price of Salt.
Typically, there are two transformations occurring in any survival story. One, of course, stems from the physical struggle with the beautiful yet relentless Mother Nature and her elements, forcing the human body to constantly take on more than it can possibly bear. The other is the metaphysical, where the survivor’s experiences forever alter his or her perception and understanding of the world. Depending on the storyteller, both matter equally, or one more than the other. Recent Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu clearly favors the latter approach to The Revenant, a beautifully photographed film that’s in love with its theme but barely puts any weight behind it.
One of the opening shots of The Hateful Eight proves to be quite telling – an extreme close-up on Jesus Christ’s forlorn face, before the camera slowly pulls back to reveal a wooden crucifix alone in a snowy wasteland, with not even a visible rock to keep it company. Here, Christ’s sacrifice to remove the sins of mankind has compelled humanity to commit more evil than ever before, abounding in even greater sin. His work ultimately amounting to nothing, he is forgotten. The world he tried to save instead has hatred running amok, and mercy is nonexistent. With that shot, writer-director Quentin Tarantino draws us into the world of his latest feature film, a mean-spirited and surprisingly political piece that’s surely his most divisive film yet.