(out of 5)
Low point for Merchant Ivory, this completely brainless period epic examines the years when Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) was American minister to France, entertaining a romance with a married aristocrat (Greta Scacchi). Also starring a just pre-fame Gwyneth Paltrow, the film suffers from a terrible screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala that has little purpose: is it about Jefferson’s professional success or is it an examination of his personal life? A subplot involving the speculation over his relationship with a slave played by Thandie Newton is also a sad misfire. Gorgeously plush like any film by this dynamic trio of filmmakers, it’s really quite a shame how much of a failure this film is.
Directed by James Ivory
Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Cinematography by Pierre Lhomme
Produced by Ismail Merchant
Music by Richard Robbins
Production Design by Guy-Claude Francois