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
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.