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4.3 out of 5 stars61
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Not sure that this 1995 film is correctly titled, as it is as much about Lytton Strachey as it is about Dora Carrington. Indeed, Christopher Hampton's screenplay recognises this by stating it is based on Michael Holroyd's biography of Strachey. As expected, both Emma Thompson as Carrington and Jonathan Pryce as Strachey manage to infuse their roles with pathos and credibility. Carrington is played as the naïve but also playful artist; Strachey as the self-centred gay man of letters.

The film is split into six parts with the first seeing them meet for the first time in the Sussex of 1915, when Strachey mistakes Carrington for a boy. The second part, whilst focusing on Carrington's relationship with the anxious and virile artist Gertler (played by a young Rufus Sewell), also sees the growth of the relationship between the two main players, Carrington telling Strachey that she loves being with him as he is "so cold and wise".

Life after the Great War is portrayed in part three with the arrival on their scene of the less anxious but equally virile Rex Partridge (Steven Waddington), fresh from the military life. He proves a muse to both man and woman. The arrival of another man into their lives, the studious and quiet Gerald Brenan (Samuel West), is the main focal point of part four, but throughout Carrington remains loyal emotionally to Strachey, a loyalty possessed even to death.

The large detached property known as Ham Spray House provides the centre of part five, where Carrington, Strachey, and Partridge attach themselves to new loves; Beacus (Jeremy Northam), Roger Senhouse, and Frances Marshall respectively. The final part witnesses ... Well, for those who know, they know, but for those who do not, it would be unfair to give the game away.

Pryce at least gets to say some of Strachey's more famous bon mots. For example, on holidaying in Wales, he declares that, "I've come to the sad conclusion that there's no such thing as a beautiful Welsh boy"; of Lady Otteline Morrell (Penelope Wilton), "She's like the Eiffel Tower: she's very silly but she affords excellent views"; and on his deathbed, "If this is dying, I don't think much of it".

As with most biopics, the film is engrossing on first play, but can suffer from superficiality on later views, as you realise the impossibility of contracting a whole lifetime to a couple of hours. (Can it ever be any other way?) Having said that, I have watched this film more than once and the DVD will remain in my collection for future screenings.

I was a little disappointed to see little mention of their links with the Bloomsbury set. And my copy is not a perfect transfer to DVD with some specks on the screen and the music occasionally wavering. The music itself is excellent, with an original score from Michael Nyman and much (too much?) reliance on the slow movement from Schubert's string quintet.

Alas, there are no extras worthy of the name, although the closing credits end with a selection of Carrington's paintings, which show how original an artist she was, but also one that accorded with the style of her times.
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on 13 March 2001
This is one of the most touching and yet intelligent films I have seen in a long time. The posibility of loving more than one person is very delicately explored, wihtout offending anyone.The scenery is gorgeous as are the interpretations of the characters by the actors, especially Emma Thompson. This film explores the human mind and heart and its reactions and various expressions of love. If ever there was a film trully expressing everyone's questions on love between people, this is it!
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There is probably some profoundly deep irony to the idea that the writer Lytton Strachey was informed by Virginia Woolf that the ravishing young boy he had his eye on was really a woman, the painter Dora Carrington, but it remains outside of my grasp at this point. However, I am not surprised that this story of a profound platonic love between two people is taken from the pages of history, because Hollywood is rarely inclined of the consummations it routinely wishes (remember, the classic tale of Cyrano de Bergerac comes from a play and was not written directly for the screen).
Strachey, Carrington, Woolf and most of the other characters in this 1995 film were members of the Bloomsbury Group, all of whom were eccentric British geniuses who explored the dynamics of human relationships in strange ways when they were not busy exorcising their artistic impulses. In a masterful understated performance Jonathan Pryce plays Lytton, who was a quiet, dry witted, reserved homosexual in his thirties when he met Carrington, played by Emma Thompson, who was 15 years younger and still a virgin. Their first meetings and the strange attraction that would bind them for the rest of their lives are sketched out in the first several scenes. The explanation for why they would live together while loving others is developed throughout the rest of the film. What becomes clear is that no matter who Lytton and Carrington took into their respective beds, or shared between them for that matter, no one mattered more to them. Ultimately, the tragedy of their relationship is not the absence of the physical dimension, but, as is often the case with most relationships, the failure of both to articulate the depth of their feelings to the other until fate cruelly rectifies that error.
Thompson's character is on a par with the other victims of unrequited love she has played with great success in "Howard's End" and "The Remains of the Day." Writer-Director Christopher Hampton, working from Michael Holroyd's book on Lytton Strachey, expands her character through Carrington's art: she must have painted every corner of Ham Spray House, where they lived in Berkshire. She is the film's title character, not only because she survives Lytton, but because after they met and became friends (pure understatement, I assure you) she continued to pursue other interests and people while he was remarkably contempt to enjoy those she brought into their small circle.
Still, it is Pryce's Lytton who is the captivating character. Like most British eccentrics he was a natural epigramist, but with a great sense of restraint, picking his moment for his one rapier thrust (even if it is on his own death bed). Carrington is the one who actively engages in the acts of intimacy between them while we have to remind our selves that Lytton's passive acceptance of it is out of a sense of propriety and not a lack of deep feelings. I have always had a strong affection for love stories that never enter the realm of the physical (is there a sexier scene in movies that the dance in "The King and I"?), and "Carrington" is a film in that tradition, especially for those with an affection for British period dramas.
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on 5 July 2004
Highly recommend this film. The acting is excellent! Emma Thompson is always great. She takes a simple approach to the character, and it shows that she can pull off anything if she sets her mind to it. Jonathan Pryce character is also fascinating and the beautiful scenery provides the dreamy mood of the picture. Extremely well crafted drama!
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on 11 January 2008
This has got to be one of the best movies I have ever watched, but is certainly a movie that requires and deserves to be watched by those who apreciate the fantastic story and acting. If you are looking for action movies don't look here, but if you like movies that are moving and deeply emotional then this might be a movie for you. I cried buckets at the end without the movie being predictable or "soppy" and best of tells the story of real people and makes one think of those poor real characters. All acting was highly professional and to the highest standard in my oppinion, but Pryce was second to none. Highly recomended if you like myself like beautiful but deep movies.
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on 5 March 2012
I enjoyed very much the film "Carrington" because of the high quality of the actors and sense of the period. There is an aura around works of this era of history, partly seen as "retrò" "bohemian" or/and anticonformist which the director completely latched onto to render the almost hermetic world of the characters. It seems as much anticonformist in our day when oddly matched human relationships are no longer seen to be such but are accepted as the norm, rather than seen through a telephoto lens distorting in a time warp the sentiments of another age. I loved it and love all themes of the "Bloomsbury set"
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on 17 August 2009
Watching 'Carrington' was pure bliss. Beautiful scenery, stunning musical score by Michael Nyman and great performances by all the cast were only part of my enjoyment. It was the plot which had me captivated from start to ending. It depicted the love between painter Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. A love experienced at different levels by each partner. Carrington loves Lytton with all her heart and is ready to make commitments. Although Lytton has feelings for Carrington and although he is willing to live together, he is not prepared to go 'all the way'. Lytton is gay and wants only male sexual companionships. Carrington and Lytton work out a relationship based on platonic affection and turn to third parties for physical fulfillment. Being the highly intelligent individuals they are, they're able to pull it off. They languish in each others company, yet there's no jealousy or bitterness when one of the two is absent, due to more frivolous occupations elsewhere. Eventually Lytton declares his integral love for Carrington and bemoans not having married her. By then it's too late because Lytton utters these words on his death-bed, leaving an unconsolable Carrington behind. Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce managed to convey both joyful and desparate feelings - and the whole spectre in between - Carrington and Lytton must have experienced during their time together. By their sheer craftmanship both actors not only ACTED as their characters, they BECAME their characters. This made Carrington and Lytton fully three-dimensional with whom I became aquainted and would like to have known in real life, had I been living in the time it was set in. 'Carrington' was situated in a rather Bohemian entourage in the 1920's. For instance; Lytton could be openly gay and the members of the circles in which the characters mingled, excercised a rather liberal sexual moral for that time. In this climate a relationship such as Carrington's and Lytton's could flourish and enjoyed to the full, without prejudices and narrow minded judgements. 'Carrington' is a very underrated picture. It never made it into the big leagues. It should be up there, along with all the other box office smashes. The acting and directing is superb and the plot is thought-provoking. I saw it several times and it had me baffled at each occasion.
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on 28 February 2016
I was really happy with the casting. To meet a believable Lytton Strachey was a special pleasure and Emma T. is as near to my own ,imagined Dora Carrington as I'm ever likely to get.. Sixty years of fascination with the Bloomsberries and with the art of the period have been amply rewarded.
I would love to have known Dora.
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on 13 February 2010
Dora Carrington's life was very complex and some aspects were not touched on in this beautifully photographed, pleasant but fairly unmemorable film. Having said that, it was interesting enough to make me want to read more about Lytton Strachey and the Bloomsbury group and Emma Thompson is absolutely lovely in the part of Dora.
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on 30 June 2015
A superb cast and a great script makes this a gem. I had picked up Michael Holroyd's biography of Lytton Strachey (on which the film is based) and the film does the book full justice. It is a difficult story to present on film compressing a number of intricate relationships into a short period, but the production succeeds.
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