Set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, the story depicts the gens de couleur libre, or the Free People of Colour, a dazzling yet damned class caught between the world of white privilege and black oppression.
Magloire Dazincourt, the owner of Bontemps, the largest sugar plantation of the entire South, asks his favorite cousin, Philippe Ferronaire, to marry his daughter Aglae Dazincourt and take over most of its management and family, including his colored mistress Cecile Ste. Marie, for whom he has a cottage build in New Orleans. When Magloire dies, Philippe becomes her lover and the father -not in law- of her son Marcel, named after his own father though, and promises her to get the boy educated in racially egalitarian Paris from age 18. However while still living in the decadent creole society in New Orleans, Marcel Ste. Marie gets in touch trough a colored carpenter with both his white and black roots, both of which bloodlines suffered greatly in the bloody racial civil wars on Haiti, a subject the American society refuses to deal with publicly, and the more people he gets to know or hears their past, the more he gets aware of social and racial matters. Then his father Philippe gets in ... Written by
This movie was so badly written, directed and acted that it beggars belief. It should be remade with a better script, director and casting service. The worst problem is the acting. You have Jennifer Beals on the one hand who is polished, professional and totally believable, and on the other hand, Ri'chard, who is woefully miscast and just jarring in this particular piece. Peter Gallagher and Jenny Levine are just awful as the slave owning (and keeping) couple, although both normally do fine work. The actors (and director) should not have attempted to do accents at all--they are inconsistent and unbelievable. Much better to have concentrated on doing a good job in actual English. The casting is ludicrous. Why have children of an "African" merchant (thus less socially desirable to the gens de couleur society ) been cast with very pale skinned actors, while the supposedly socially desirable Marcel, has pronounced African features, including an obviously dyed blond "fro"? It's as if the casting directors cannot be bothered to read the script they are casting and to chose appropriate actors from a large pool of extremely talented and physically diverse actors of color. It's just so weird! This could be a great movie and should be re-made, but with people who respect the material and can choose appropriate and skilled actors. There are plenty of good actors out there, and it would be fun to see how Jennifer Beals, Daniel Sunjata and Gloria Reuben would do with an appropriate cast, good script and decent direction.
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