When Therese finally whispers, “Take me to bed,” it’s a beautiful, sexy moment in the film, but it’s not the end of Therese’s journey.
She still has some growing up to do, some “blossoming” as Carol later describes it.
Young people have often been drawn to older gay men and lesbians in this liminal period, because straight friends and family aren’t just unhelpful when it comes to understanding these queer urges—they’re often downright hostile.
In , Therese’s friends are big-city bohemians, as progressive as they came in 1950s America, but they still dismiss her interest in Carol as a perverted impulse or a childish crush.
Therese happily accepts Carol’s invitation to lunch, and though many days and nights will pass before they find themselves in bed together, it feels almost inevitable once each had signaled interest in this cryptic, coded way.
While it’s easy to see why Therese would be so intoxicated by Carol, it’s not so clear what Carol sees in Therese.
The young woman is Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), an aspiring photographer working the Christmas season at a New York City department store when she meets Mrs.
Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), who is shopping for a gift for her young daughter.
Therese is the one who originates things, noticing that Carol has left her gloves at the sales counter, she remembers her address, packages the gloves, and drops them in a mailbox, with her employee number as the only indication of the sender.
Carol, in turn, has to call the store, ask to speak with her good Samaritan, and request another meeting.