Jonathan Pryce did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes and being nominated for a Bafta, for portraying Lytton Strachey in Carrington.
Jonathan Pryce plays Lytton Strachey a homosexual writer who comes to living in the country where he comes across the somewhat peculiar painter Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson). Pryce plays Strachey himself as a bit of a character so to speak. There's very much an eccentric quality that Pryce gives the part in the way he physically portrays Strachey. Pryce gives him a very purposeful and proper sort of walk about himself. Pryce plays Strachey as very much the intellectual who is perhaps just a little too well aware of his position as an intellectual. Pryce's whole manner has a certain distance he brings in that Strachey seems to separate himself from all others just due to this very structured way he acts. This approach Pryce takes actually works quite well for the film's depiction of Strachey which is as a man who is completely aware as his position as an important writer so to speak as he goes about how he's forced himself to be a voice against the war for example. Pryce's approach matches this excessive thought that Strachey basically puts into his whole being.
Pryce though does not leave there and this is certainly not a depiction of an uptight Victorian sort of a man, as Strachey is known during the period even for his sexual preferences. Strachey does not hide this and nor does Pryce in his performance. Pryce actually comes up with a rather interesting dynamic of his character as he's two seemingly opposite things all in one in terms of both his proper manner for the time along with his purposeful rejection of that in terms of his personal preferences. Pryce portrays the scenes with Strachey presents his interest in men as especially obvious in his depiction, maybe playing it just ab it more to be the man that everyone says he is. Pryce does not go over the top, but rather carefully realizes a man who does like to make a bit of a spectacle of himself on purpose. Pryce importantly shows that it is something also very natural in Strachey and it is still him very much acting out in just the way he desires to. This extends even right to starting out one moment to being quite keen in seeing what he thinks is a boy only to suddenly be aghast to find out that it is in fact a woman, this being first time he sees Dora in fact.
Now the central element of the film is the relationship between Strachey and Carrington which has a problem in that she is unquestionably in love with him while the problem remains that Strachey just has absolutely no interest in her physically. Now Pryce is excellent in that he is able to find what it is that causes Carrington to be so fascinated with him. The interesting part though is Pryce does not suggest this when Strachey is acting out as the writer or as a passionate lover. Pryce instead finds this in the quiet moments between the two as Pryce reveals just a gentler man which carries an abundance of warmth whenever it is he drops his most overt passions as a writer or as a man. Thompson and Pryce are very good in creating that underlying connection that seems between the two, at the same time making the disconnect seem just as honest. The two though in there pivotal interactions seem just on this certain wavelength, yet Pryce importantly keeps a certain reservation or even confusion at her continued interest in him while he is simply unable to fake something that just is not there in him.
The two attempt to resolve their peculiar situation by involving a bi-sexual man which creates probably more problems than it solves since neither exactly gets what they desire. I have to say though as the film proceeds Pryce is oddly often forced into the background, as the film does keep a much close focus upon Carrington than it does Strachey, while after all Carrington is the title. It seems like a somewhat missed opportunity as at times the film feels like its forgetting about the more fascinating aspect of the film which is the relationship between Strachey and Carrington. Whenever there is a moment where the two do reexamine their positions Pryce and Thompson are great in that the two just really make sense out of the connection and the difficulties that both motivate and pain the two of them. The film never quite fully makes use of this to make something truly special leaving the final scene of the two seeming a bit simplified. To Pryce's credit he is rather moving in depicting Strachey in a state where he has absolutely no pretense, and just reveals the actual truth without reservation. It simply never quite narrows in on the greatness it seems to be trying to circle, leaving Thompson and Pryce without quite the material to go the next step themselves. Nevertheless this is a very good performance, I can't help but feel though that a much better film could have been made utilizing Jonathan Pryce's remarkable depiction of Lytton Strachey.