Rated: R for sexual content. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: November 10, 1995 Released by: Poly Gram Pictures
Set in the beauty of a pastoral, calm, serene rural setting in the early 1800s, the title character, Carrington (Emma Thompson), becomes involved in numerous relationships with men. Her most compelling relationship is with Lytton Strachey (Jonathan Pryce). Lytton returns her love in limited portions only as he is homosexual. Their unusual relationship permeates, strains and pulls at all their other affairs.
Lytton is a mixture of idealism and arrogance. Under his white straw hat the two look the same. He is cocksure of his was of life and his philosophies and he has the courage to refuse to serve in the Army during World War I. Carrington strains his concentration and his preference for men.
Beyond the two main characters, the exploration of sex vs. love relationships is the main theme. Carrington deeply loves Lytton; she sleeps with him, holds him and adores him completely but never has sex with him. She spends plenty of time in physical sexual relationships with other men. The openness of all the relationships is not ordinary. They all respect each other and they are truly caring friends.
Carrington is a painter and Lytton a writer. They speak of being poor but always have enough money to lead a life of freedom. Carrington won't sell her work but Lytton does have some success with books he has written.
Thompson and Pryce are flawless. She is not masculine, she simply is not graceful and poised as are the wealthy women around her. She is a bit like a tomboy. The seem to be from two different species. They con't reproduce together or engage in sexual love but share a powerful masked love which one hides and the other openly displays. Their love remains forever.
The contrast between the calm setting and the volatile emotion of the characters eventually leads to tragedy.
This is a very fine film but it moves slowly and is more fitting for a thoughtful art audience than a general audience.