Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom/France, 1995. Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Freeway Films, Cinéa, Orsans Productions, StudioCanal, Euston Films, European Co-production Fund. Screenplay by Christopher Hampton, based on the book by Michael Holroyd. Cinematography by Denis Lenoir. Produced by John McGrath, Ronald Shedlo. Music by Michael Nyman. Production Design by Caroline Amies. Costume Design by Penny Rose. Film Editing by George Akers.
Christopher Hampton writes and directs this examination of the lifelong friendship between painter Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson) and writer Lytton Strachey (Jonathan Pryce), the only man she ever truly loved. The two leads are stupendous in their performances, both of them completely breaking free of their accustomed film images and presenting fresh, lively versions of themselves. Thompson tears down the prim image of period sophistication that she is known for and plays a hotblooded, passionate painter who feels everything around her strongly. Pryce goes from his usual duties of playing hard-edged suits to being a markedly flamboyant and effortlessly witty gay poet and philosopher. Where the film falters is in Hampton’s lack of narrative drive or affection: these two are such great artists, and yet the glimpses into their work or inspiration are far too few to be satisfying. By the time you reach the film’s end, you might have exhausted your patience completely; on the other hand, your heart will be completely broken by it. Michael Nyman’s beautiful score is a plus.
Cannes Film Festival Awards: Jury Special Prize; Best Actor (Jonathan Pryce)
Toronto International Film Festival: 1995