The ‘Carol’ Trailer and the Unbearable Lightness of Anticipation

nullThat rush of attraction. The exhilaration of discovery. The ache of longing. The shock of falling in love with a movie trailer.

The first full-length trailers for the lesbian drama “Carol” were released yesterday and greeted with universal swooning.

For lesbian and bisexual women, the build-up to the film’s release has been particularly satisfying. We’ve waited so long for a truly terrific breakthrough lesbian film. We’ve watched so many truly terrible clunkers. It’s like we were almost afraid to dream. So each step of the process with “Carol” has also been met with measured management of expectations.

So they’re making a movie out of Patricia Highsmith’s classic lesbian novel “The Price of Salt?” Cool, cool. Oh, Oscar-nominated out filmmaker Todd Haynes is directing? Sounds good. Lesbian playwright and dramatist Phyllis Nagy wrote the script? Sounds very good. It is going to star two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara. Yep, officially excited.

But we didn’t know how excited until we watched the exquisite U.S. and international full-length trailers. With its intoxicating mix of nostalgia and desire, beauty and romance it is impossible to not fall head over heals. And Blanchett’s voice – dear God, please tell me you like my hat forever.

Luckily early review of “Carol” seems to back up our now sky-high expectations. The film’s release this fall represents a small embarrassment of riches for lesbian and bisexual viewers. “Carol” and “Freeheld,” starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore, are both collecting Oscar-buzz and could represent a significant turning point for lesbian cinema.

The first “Freeheld” trailer has positioned it as a somewhat more traditional crusade film, retelling the true-life story of a lesbian couple fighting against discriminatory policies, in the same earnest vein as “Philadelphia.” “Carol” has taken a more atmospheric route, relying on the rawness of emotion set against the backdrop of an even more stifling society.

Granted, two lesbian-themed films with the potential to crossover to mainstream audiences does not a revolution make. But the giddy anticipation among gay women – and many of their straight friends – is very real.

The vast majority of the most heralded LGBT-themed film to this point have focused on gay men. “Philadelphia,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Milk,” “Far From Heaven,” “Longtime Companion,” “Torch Song Trilogy.”

Granted, some smaller lesbian films have received accolades of late – “The Kids Are All Right,” “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” But they’ve still reached relatively smaller audiences. Yet both “Carol” and “Freeheld” have high-profile casts and are being positioned as major Academy Award contenders. And, best yet, it’s not just gay audiences who have taken notice and are excited.

The wait for a truly great mainstream lesbian film could finally be over – twice.