By Sharon Clott Kanter
Updated Nov 17, 2015 @ 2:45 pm
Credit: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty

It’s so 2015 to skip putting labels on love. But back in the 1950s, it wasn’t so easy. And it’s this idea—that the heart wants what it wants—that is central to Carol, the romantic period drama set in the early ‘50s, which hits theaters Friday, Nov. 20. The film stars Cate Blanchett as the titular character, a married woman who falls for a shopgirl named Therese, played by Rooney Mara. But the two leads are quick to point out that this is not a lesbian love affair—it’s simply a love affair.

“To me there is no difference [between heterosexual and homosexual relationships],” Mara said during a press conference for the film in New York City this week. “One of the great things about the film is that it’s not a political film. It’s not a film with an agenda. We’re not preaching to the audience. People are allowed to just watch it for what it is, which is a love story between two humans.”

Credit: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Blanchett agreed. “When you experience a love story, whether it’s back in the 1400s in China or India, or 1952 in New York, it feels as if it’s this timeless connection,” she said. And what Blanchett hopes you feel and relate to most is the way they fall in love. “Carol describes her position [of loving Therese] as being in uncharted territory and free-floating, as you do when you fall in love with anyone for the first time,” said Blanchett. “[When that happens,] you’ve felt like you’ve never been you before. You’ve been confronted with questions, confronted with sides of yourself that suggests you’re playing in territory you’ve never been in before.” That’s her definition of love—and, no, there are no labels.

Watch the trailer for Carol below.