This is a astonishingly well-crafted film that manages to explore multilayered themes in a deceptively simple storyline. You can look at it from so many different angles: the role of a woman in society, victim-blaming in the context of an epidemic, ecological anxiety, exploitation in self-help culture… The aspect that interests me the most is how the notion of taking control of your own life can be at the same time liberating and suffocating, especially when confronted with something that you don’t understand and so can’t control. Carol goes from just accepting her increasingly worsening condition (because other people don’t seem to believe that it’s real), to making a radical change in order to improve, only to find herself in a cult where she’s led to believe that she’s been freed, while at the same time continuining to get worse and no longer having any actual control over her life.
Before this rewatch I only had memories of the Wrenwood part, but it’s clear to me now that the first part (corresponding to half of the movie) is just as important. In a way they serve as duals of each other. It also struck me how so very 80s everything looks and feels, down to the (haunting) soundtrack. Did people already have a notion of what it means to be “very 80s” back in 1995?