CINCINNATI — First, let me say that I am not a suit and tie type of guy. The local premiere of “Carol” at the Esquire Saturday evening and the red carpet gala at the Cincinnati Club that followed though was that type of event.
Specifically, the invitation instructions sent out by the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission recommended “cocktail attire.” I searched Google to learn exactly what “cocktail attire” was. Luckily, Google does not laugh at your silly questions the way some people might.
When I showed up to the Esquire on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton Saturday in suit and tie, I was relieved to see Google didn't steer me wrong.
Women were in fancy dresses and men suits as they stood underneath the theater's marquee announcing the premiere of "Carol" in big black letters (a perfect fit for the 1950s romance drama filmed entirely in Cincinnati). There was even a red carpet on the sidewalk for invited guests.
Familiar faces such as Cincinnati City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, and, of course, Kristen Erwin Schlotman, the executive director of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission, filled the lobby inside. Schlotman helped bring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara here to film the movie in 2014 when she showed director Todd Haynes everything the city had to offer.
The one sad absence was Haynes, who planned to attend the screening and gala, but fell ill just a couple of days before.
All who did attend made sure to stop and get a picture before heading into the theater.
People then sipped complimentary champagne and ate popcorn as Schlotman delivered a pre-recorded message on the movie screen. She thanked the local cast (30 people with speaking roles) and crew who worked on the film before it began.
After watching the movie for the first time, I agree that Schlotman, the local cast and crew should be very proud of their work. The story of the love affair between two women in a time of homophobia and overt sexism absolutely deserves the five Golden Globe nominations it received.
I loved the small gasps from the audience who immediately recognized a scene in Eden Park in the first few moments of the movie. There were also murmurs of people pointing out places where they lived in background scenes. So many uniquely Cincinnati locales (Lytle Tunnel even made an appearance) popped up that I will have to watch the movie a few more times to pick them all out.
The film commission then outdid itself at the gala it held immediately after the movie at the Cincinnati Club, where portions of “Carol” was filmed.
Open bars served top shelf liquor on both floors of the club. Small plates of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pigs-in-a-blanket, a seafood special, and tuna on toast were also served.
For those wondering, each item was served at some point in the film.
And of course, there was dancing, of which I did none, because I can’t.
Overall, the evening delivered what Schlotman and film critics promised. “Carol” was a spectacular film worth seeing and the local premiere event celebrated a crowing achievement for the commission and local film industry.