I’ve just watched a movie called Carrington, about Dora Carrington and her relationship with a gay writer, Lytton Strachey, who wrote Eminent Victorians, a book that includes four studies, about Cardinal Manning (Henry Edward Manning), Florence Nightingale, Dr. Arnold (Thomas Arnold), and General Gordon (Charles George Gordon). The book is in the public domain (it was first published in 1918) and you can download it from gutenberg.org for free. It turns out Lytton Strachey was one of the Bloomsbury Set, which also included Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and Roger Fry, among others.
Back to the movie. I picked this movie at the British Council Library the other day for Emma Thompson. Had no idea what I was getting myself into: who Dora Carrington the artist was, who Lytton Strachey was, and what the movie was actually about, for that matter. Had no idea that besides the script for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), mentioned on the DVD case, writer-director Christopher Hampton also wrote the scripts for The Quiet American (2002), Atonement (2007), and A Dangerous Method (2011), among other films. Christopher Hampton’s script for this movie was based on a biography of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd.
So I found myself watching Carrington without any expectations at all, baffled at its surprising turns and at the same time seeing them as predictable in the context of the bohemian society portrayed.
Emma Thompson was great, as always. But the surprise here, to me at least, was Jonathan Pryce, unrecognizable here in the role of Lytton Strachey, for which he won Best Actor at Cannes in 1995. (At the same festival, Christopher Hampton won the Special Jury Prize unanimously.)