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Article

Jefferson in Paris

Posted on

Jefferson in Paris

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG-13
performer:
Nick Nolte, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
director:
James Ivory
Producer:
Ismail Merchant
genre:
Historical, Drama

We gave it a C

Jefferson in Paris (PG-13) In the painstakingly lavish new Merchant Ivory film, Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) emerges as a figure of passionate contradictions. He’s the philosopher-saint of the American Revolution, yet also a cultivated aristocrat. He falls in love with the elegant Anglo-Italian artiste Maria Cosway (Greta Scacchi), yet he begins sleeping with his 15-year- old slave, the childlike Sally Hemings (Thandie Newton). Set during the years 1784-89, when Jefferson was U.S. ambassador to France, Jefferson in Paris brings the cocoon of prerevolutionary Paris to vivid, eccentric life. For all its historical fascination, though, the film gradually loses the pulse of its characters. Thandie Newton’s Sally is a beautiful, swaying flower who talks in dawdling Stepin Fetch-itese. There’s only one explanation for why Jefferson would get involved with her-lust-and that’s the one emotion that has no place in the Merchant Ivory universe. C ( 269, April 7) -OG