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Carrington Movie Review

strachey pryce thompson hampton

People who say that a woman is ahead of her time are usually men. Since so little is expected of them, women often follow paths that make more sense to them as individuals than to anyone else, including many of their male biographers. Dora Carrington was an early 20th century eccentric and a wonderful painter. She fell in love with the witty, sickly, and broke gay writer Lytton Strachey. Although she didn't fully realize it until he was on his deathbed, Strachey fell in love with her, too. They lived together for many years, meeting their sexual needs with other partners, but arranging their entire lives so they could be together. Writer/director Christopher Hampton goes into considerable detail about the financial arrangements the two have to make to live together, and I'm afraid I lost track of the count and the amount during one of Carrington's many affairs. But Jonathan Pryce and Emma Thompson are just dear as the unlikely couple who wrote their own rules in the idyllic English countryside. What do they see in each other? It's only obvious. He is honest, charming, and fun; she is loyal, loving, and unique. Except for Strachey, Carrington is accountable to no one but herself, certainly not to a spouse or her many lovers. But she's as strung on Strachey as a woman can be. Strachey's light, dry, satirical books are still in print, including his biography of Queen Victoria, which is considered to be his masterpiece. For his time, Strachey's biographical approach was revolutionary; no previous writer had succeeded in revealing an icon like Victoria in such deeply human terms. Jonathan Pryce does a beautiful job showing just why Lytton Strachey captivated his generation, and Emma Thompson is an ideal foil as his much-loved companion who is quirky to everyone but herself. Art critics (who rarely ever wrote about her before this movie) complain that we don't get to see enough of Carrington's work in the film, but we don't get to read any of Strachey's work here either. This is above all a sensitively rendered love story, and Hampton and cast deserve high marks for making Carrington so vital and real to contemporary audiences.

1995 (R) 120m/C FR GB Emma Thompson, Jonathan Pryce, Steven Waddington, Samuel West, Rufus Sewell, Penelope Wilton, Jeremy Northam, Peter Blythe, Janet McTeer, Alex Kingston, Sebastian Harcombe, Richard Clifford; D: Christopher Hampton; W: Christopher Hampton; C: Denis Lenoir; M: Michael Nyman. Cannes Film Festival ‘95: Special Jury Prize, Best Actor (Pryce); National Board of Review Awards ‘95: Best Actress (Thompson); Nominations: British Academy Awards ‘95: Best Actor (Pryce), Best Film. VHS, LV

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