Film Scouts Reviews


by Kathleen Carroll

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They were an odd couple to say the least. Like other members of the Bloomsbury set writer Lytton Strachey rebelled against the stuffy conventions of British society and he made no secret of his homosexuality. In fact painter Dora Carrington originally caught his eye because he thought she was a boy. Carrington, as she preferred to be called, wasn't quite sure what to think of this frail older man with the unfashionable beard. But she was clearly attracted to his mind and she soon agreed to share a country cottage with Strachey. With Carrington transforming their various homes into cozy, brightly painted love nests with all the decorative fervor of Martha Stewart their intense feelings for each other never wavered not even when their various lovers intruded on their lives. Christopher Hampton, who wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for DANGEROUS LIASONS, examines this potentially dangerous liason in CARRINGTON. Making his debut as a director Hampton relates this unusual 17-year love story in a series of absorbing, carefully measured episodes. The move contains welcome examples of Strachey's deliciously acerbic wit. It has the visual charm of a Merchant-Ivory production, the camera taking in the quaint gardens and vibrant interiors of increasingly lavish country houses. Best of all it has Jonathan Pryce who delivers Strachey's waspish remarks with style but also reveals his staunch heart and emotional fragility. Emma Thompson, wearing bobbed hair and mostly pants, seems wonderfully energized by the role of Carrington and she plays her with touching candor. There are a few false notes - most notably composer Michael Nyman's heavy-handed attempts to dictate the audience response with his overly syrupy music. Even so CARRINGTON is surprisingly moving in its depiction of a man and a woman who defied all the acceptable rules of behavior, inventing their own form of unlicensed "marriage" as they went along.

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