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May 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

At the midpoint of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Todd Haynes’s Carol appears to be most critics’ choice as the frontrunner for the top prize, the Palme d’Or. The film, which stars Cate Blanchett in the title role and Rooney Mara as her lesbian lover in the early 1950s, was described as an “impressive lesbian drama” by the London Independent. Indiewire.com headlined: “‘Carol’ is a masterful lesbian romance.” The Guardian‘s headline read: “Cate Blanchett captivates in woozily obsessive lesbian romance.” The Irish Times trumpeted in its headline that the “lesbian romance combines deep thinking with simmering passion.” Yet the very word “lesbian,” while appearing in most headlines, was omitted in nearly all of the actual reviews below them. And it was more than 20 minutes into a news conference for the film that the “love that dare not speak its name” was mentioned. It was, however, clearly the elephant in the room — particularly when the issue clearly affects overseas distribution. Blanchett obliquely alluded to that matter at the news conference when she observed, “There are still 70 countries around the world in which homosexuality is still illegal.” But she appeared to sidestep a reporter’s question about how public attitudes toward lesbian relationships have changed, admitting after an evasive reply, “I don’t know whether that answers your question, or was I avoiding it perhaps?” Except for a rather banal question to the two stars about what it was like to appear in a nude love scene — and an equally banal reply — the issue never arose again.