Original Sin Review
Starring possibly the sultriest Hollywood pairing in recent years of Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, Original Sin tells a story based around the time of early twentieth century Cuba. Successful coffee merchant Luis Durand (Banderas) has desired a male order American bride, and has delighted in the fact that, based on the photo his bride-to-be Julia has sent him, she appears plain, kind and gentle looking, and young enough to bear his children. Durand is shocked when Julia (Angelina Jolie) arrives, due to her stunningly natural beauty. Julia confesses to lying to Luis so that he wouldn't marry her just for her appearances. Luis forgives her, and soon enough they are married and live a happy and vibrantly sexual lifestyle, until Detective Downs (Thomas Jane) visits Luis, and provides some evidence that may suggest Julia is not who she seems at all. Eventually, double-crosses and heartbreak occur on a frequent basis, and Luis wonders if his romanticised ideal of love may result in his undoing.
Original Sin is based on 'Waltz into Darkness', by Cornell Woolrich, the creative genius behind the novel that became possibly Hitchcock's finest effort in Rear Window. Original Sin is essentially a second attempt at adapting the novel as it was first brought to the screen in 1969 as Mississippi Mermaid by the late, great Francois Truffaut, and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve.
Metro Goldwyn Mayer's once solid reputation for producing lavish dramas such as Dr. Zhivago and Gone With The Wind has taking quite a punishment in recent years, and Original Sin doesn't help matters one iota. Essentially a TV period movie with two world famous actors as stars, Original Sin offers nothing new to cinema-goers and the unoriginal elements the film rehashes aren't delivered too masterfully either.
The performances by Banderas and Jolie are perfectly acceptable, and Jolie's exceptional attractiveness is used (or exploited/manipulated?) as the film's biggest asset. Thomas Jane's hams his performance to the point where you'd think he was parodying Cary Elwes, and this detracts heavily to the suspense. Both Jolie and Banderas shed clothes at a frequent level, and there are times in the film when the movie hits the correct erotic level necessary for such a passionate period drama. Indeed, the first half of the film promises an entertaining movie, but the plot spirals completely out of control and in other directions in the second half, and this taints the film enough to place it amongst the level of acclaim the film has already received - It's been universally panned by critics around the world and has not made too much of a dent at the box office.
In short, Original Sin isn't truly terrible, and delivers much as long as the audience expects nothing. Banderas and Jolie have never looked better on screen, and Jolie herself seems destined to outdo Sharon Stone on the sexy Ice maiden/femme fatale character if she continues to pick roles that are this juicy. The main problem with the film is the almost lethargic effort by the writer/director Michael Cristofer. He doesn't push the film to its limits and instead settles just to scrape through, and has delivered a film that if anything suggests he shouldn't have even bothered.