I'm not saying that it's certainly the case with you fellas but I think a big part of how much you will be impressed with a product of art will depend on how much you were prepared to be invested in that particular piece. I honestly never cared much for Blue is the Warmest Colour prior to seeing it and I ended up feeling underwhelmed by it, I was sitting there waiting to be impressed rather than looking for stuff deep beneath the surface. I mean being too much invested might also be a bit of a problem, seeing stuff that are really not there and giving credit where it isn't due. It's a problem I try to solve with having two different rating systems which might not be the ultimate resolution but it certainly helps to recognize the difference between two segments of one's mind that only converge in a small intersection point.
Anyway Carol stands for me as one of the best romantic dramas I ever had the pleasure to see, mainly because in addition to the fact that it feels overwhelmingly authentic and relatable, it also employs a very cinematic language to depict its emotional core. Many of the images got stuck in my mind and that was a very important task, this film had to accomplish because it needs to feel like a distinct dream at times that you don't remember when you had, but remembering it helps in stirring certain unexplainable emotions from deep inside. That is what I find to be in this case the most effective way to make your audience put themselves in the shoes of the characters even if they find it hard to relate with a homosexual couple. It was the right approach for the material and Haynes pulled it off beautifully.
I mean it's also heartbreaking stuff and a depiction of a cruel part of human's nature while showcasing great performances that carry the weight of such a burdensome material and it has one of those rare excellent scripts that barely puts a foot wrong in any part of it. But that particular aspect of the film is what ultimately makes it an special one.£