The artistic world of Paris in the 1920s comes to life as if in a lustrous dream in The Moderns, a romantic’s lush vision of a group of expatriate Americans at a time and place of some of the century’s most tumultuous creative activity.
There is Nick Hart (Keith Carradine) who, at 33, is viewed suspiciously for not having made it yet as an artist. Oiseau (Wallace Shawn), a gossip columnist for the Tribune, who dreams only of going to Hollywood; Bertram Stone (John Lone), an elegant, rich, philistine art dealer with a disturbing violent streak; his wife, Rachel (Linda Fiorentino), with whom Nick has a past and, he hopes, a future; and Hemingway himself (Kevin J. O’Connor), who amusingly careens through the action in varying states of inebriation, trying out titles for a new book.
Also critical to the assorted personal equations are Libby (Genevieve Bujold), an impoverished gallery owner with values diametrically opposed to those of Stone, and Nathalie (Geraldine Chaplin), a patroness of the arts who convinces Nick to execute some spectacular forgeries.
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Carradine has never been better, as he conveys the strong feelings he has for art and his estranged wife as well as the diffidence that has set in due to years of frustration and lack of recognition. Lone is the picture of disciplined decadence, a magnetic figure who commands fascination, and Fiorentino is ideal as the gorgeous American of a prosaic background over whom men may lose their hearts, mind and lives.