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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Carrington

Starring: Emma Thompson, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Christopher Hampton
Rated: R
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 1995
Genres: Drama, Romance, Gay/Lesbian

*Also starring: Steven Waddington, Samuel West, Rufus Sewell, Penelope Wilton, Janet McTeer, Peter Blythe, Jeremy Northam, Alex Kingston

Review by Dragan Antulov
2 stars out of 4

Writers of romantic comedies in contemporary Hollywood desperately try to find give some new, original spin to the "boy meets girl" formula. But their efforts fail and Hollywood on-screen romances, no matter how outrageous they might seem on the surface, never go beyond heterosexual monogamist conventions. Real life is, on the other hand, much more complex than that and one of the most unusual on-screen romances could be seen in CARRINGTON, 1995 biopic written and directed by Christopher Hampton.

Protagonist of the film is Lytton Strachey (played by Jonathan Pryce), English early 20th Century writer famous for redefining biography genre with his book "Eminent Victorians". At the beginning of First World War Stratchey, known for his homosexuality, attends the party and gets attracted to "ravishing boy" playing soccer. When it turns that the "boy" is actually Dora Carrington (played by Emma Thompson), young woman in man's clothes, this misunderstanding gets another, even more bizarre twist. Both Stratchey and Carrington find that they actually love each other. For obvious reasons, the relationship is going to stay strictly platonic - both lovers change their sexual partners but they are always together. Carrington, who matured into renowned painter, can't imagine life without Stratchey.

Christopher Hampton, the maker of CARRINGTON, had to wait for two decades before his script received its screen incarnation. The production was plagued with many difficulties that in the end forced Hampton to take the role of director. Although CARRINGTON had success at the prestigious film festivals (Cannes included), Hampton is obviously more comfortable in front of paper than behind the camera. CARRINGTON can pride itself with nice period reconstruction, but it gives impression of Merchant-Ivory's sterility and in the end is slightly overlong. Michael Nyman's music is also at times quite irritating.

Those flaws are, however, compensated with superb acting. Jonathan Pryce is simply wonderful in his very human portrayal of eccentric English writer. Emma Thompson is also quite good, but her performance in this film is going to be remembered more for her willingness to remove clothes in front of camera than with some particularly impressive display of acting talent. The reason for that might be found in the character of Carrington, so obviously overshadowed by larger-than-life Strachey and many viewers would ask themselves why the film was named CARRINGTON instead of STRACHEY.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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