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Carrington Review

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Dora Carrington (Thompson) is a painter in World War I-era England, who woos and wins a series of men - but who remains in love with her gay writer pal, Lytton Strachey (Pryce), with predictably tragic consequences.

★★★★

Dora Carrington was a pudding-bowl coiffured painter who, in the 1920s, loved and lost a series of men, all the while suppressing her unrequited adoration for her best pal, the homosexual scribbler Lytton Strachey. He, by the same token, was besotted with her, but never admitted it until it was far too late. The consequences, inevitably, turned out to be tragic.

Carrington the movie is a slick combination of period drama and rampant sexual adventure, every bit as saucy as you would expect from the Oscar-winning writer of Dangerous Liaisons. With Thompson almost unrecognisable in the title role, the film begins in 1915 and follows the painter's transformation from uptight virgin to man-munching nympho, with Strachey (Pryce) unfailingly loyal at her side as she leaves a string of broken hearts and passionate flings in her wake.

For the most part, this is a fascinating account of eccentricity and loose morals, topped with a performance of career-best standards from Cannes-winner Pryce. First-time director Hampton is also on form, making the most of his picturesque locations and giving the film a touch of elegance that never allows the sex to become sleazy. What remains unclear, however, is how Carrington caused so many men to flock to her side. Thompson's portrayal, while not unsympathetic, gives the impression that Strachey must have been something of an angel to put up with someone seldom seen in a favourable light.

An all-round class act, with excellent performances from both leads.