Original Sin

Rated: R
Stars:   Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie
Director/Writer:   Michael Cristofer, from the Cornell Woolrich novel Waltz Into Darkness

Original Sin  is a tedious affair, to be sure. Antonio Banderas plays the pure of heart, innocent; Angelina Jolie is the wicked temptress and you can bet your coffee plantation that the ‘devil’ made her do it. So do you really need to see this movie? No, if you’re looking for exciting drama; yes, if all you want to see is a skin flick starring Banderas’ behind and Jolie’s torso.

Banderas plays rich Cuban coffee exporter Luis Vargas, who’s too busy making money to attend to things like love and marriage. Still, the man figures it’s high time to get a nice, plain wife to fit the bill. Through correspondence, he engages an American wife named Julia Russell (Jolie) and ships her to Cuba. Upon her arrival, he notices that he’s been duped because she’s not the plain Jane-Julia he was expecting – more the luscious babe even in her low-cut Victorian garb. But that’s okay, because he duped her too, making her believe that he was just a lowly clerk at the company he owns, afraid that women would only want him for his considerable wealth.

They’re married that same day, although Luis, very graciously, allows his bride time to get to know him before they consummate the marriage. Not only does Julia get to know him, but also his bank account; she’s given free rein to spend like a demon. He falls hopelessly in love with her and there’s a very long sexual montage of the two of them flopping around in bed until they’re twisted like pretzels as the camera lingers lovingly upon their nakedness. Fans of Banderas and Jolie probably won’t be disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things, so what.

He’s a very happy camper for a short time and suddenly she’s gone, along with his money. Will her find her and kill her? He certainly wants to. The problem is, he just can’t live without her. A sneaky man from her past shows up to tempt and force her to do the naughty things she does. Poor Luis, he’s manipulated every which way by the two of them.

Lotta says: The first third of the film is intoxicating with its lush Cuban settings, period costumes and customs. But the story twists and turns so slowly and in too many expected ways for you to care after a time. You want Luis to shoot her and get it over with, or at the very least, rip those too-big-for-her-face lips right off. I can’t complain about the acting; both give it their best shot and I think Banderas is quite good as well as being nice to look at. Jolie irks me; I think it’s her emaciated look or perhaps it’s because she’s suddenly the queen of filmdom and she hardly deserves it. In any case, the film is ho-hum.

Reviewed 8/4/01