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"Jefferson in Paris" is a truly confounding film. It presents Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) in the most unflattering light possible, painting him as a liar, racist and pedophile, yet offers not a shred of condemnation for those sins. This is the way he was, the film seems to say. End of sentence, end of movie, the door’s behind you.After arriving in Paris with his daughter Patsy (Gwenyth Paltrow), Jefferson proceeds to win the heart of Maria Cosway (Greta Scacchi), the wife of a homosexual English painter (the criminally underused Simon Callow). A turn of events sends Maria to England, however, and Jefferson proceeds to forget her with astonishing speed for a man who, mere minutes of screen time before, was asking her to live with him in America.He’s been bewitched, you see, by Sally Hemmings (Thandie Newton), one of his slaves just arrived from America. Just why he’s bewitched is hard to tell–although Sally is undeniably beautiful, she acts like a simple-minded child in f…
The DNA test is inconclusive, there is just as much likelihood that Randolph Jefferson was the father. To make this the opening scene and a big part of the story is a travesty and worthy of tabloid press not a historical drama."Historians have the wrong Jefferson. Hyland, an experienced trial lawyer, presents the most reliable historical evidence while dissecting the unreliable, and in doing so he cuts through centuries of unsubstantiated charges. The author reminds us that the DNA tests identified Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest child, as being merely the descendant of a "Jefferson male." Randolph Jefferson, the president's wayward, younger brother with a reputation for socializing among the Monticello slaves, emerges as the most likely of several possible candidates."