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Original Sin
Original Sin

Buy the Poster

Original Sin

Starring Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie, Thomas Jane
Based on the novel "Waltz into Darkness" by Cornell Woolrich
Screenplay and Directed by Michael Cristofer

IN SHORT: It's a great poster, as far movies go. A poor chick flick as far as everything else. [Rated R for strong sexual content and some violence. 120 minutes]

"Your eyes only see what you want to see. You can't walk away from love" goes the song at then end of the almost endless Original Sin. We had girlfriends in our past who would plow through those thousand page romance novels in which every other word was an adjective and every verb panted breathlessly on the page. Slowly and more slowly still, their stories would build until they hit their final hundred pages like a runaway train.

If we hadn't sat quietly through the first seventy minutes of Original Sin, we could have nodded off. Luckily, the film is filled with nudity and film student indulgences, like multiple jump cuts in its scenes, which kept us snapping back into reality. It's director Michael Cristofer's first major work since Gia (on HBO, which was terrific) but decision to fall back on editing gimmicks only underscores how bad his script and pacing decisions are.

Set in 1882, Original Sin spends most of its time in Santiago Cuba. There, a well dressed, debonair Luis Vargas (Antonio Banderas) eagerly awaits the arrival of his mail order bride, from Wilmington Delaware. She is Miss Julia Russell (Angelina Jolie) and she is much prettier than her photograph would imply. In turn, Luis has lied about his background. He has told her that he is a clerk in a coffee shipping company but in reality, he owns the company. No matter. She finds him long after the boat docks -- he was, after all, looking for a different woman -- and they are married that night. Luis is quite the gentleman to the stranger that is to share his bed. He tells her to wait; that when she is ready, he will be ready.

When she is ready, they go to town. Which poses the question: Is a lot of nudity and torrid sex enough to keep your attention up (sic) and your mind awake enough to get through the rest of this movie? Maybe. The sex is surely good enough that Luis is locked down tight for life. A good Catholic, the implication is that Julia has presented him with more than a banquet full of sensual delights. Whatever, the relationshp is sledgehammer-to-the-head, love at first sight for Luis. It is money in the bank for Julia, aka Bonnie Castle, a prostitute and con artist whose unseen conspirator killed the real Miss Russell and dumped her body over the side of the boat which brought her from Delaware. That doesn't explain the British accent that comes and goes from the mouth of the character, a welcome distraction from the plodding pace of the rest of the movie..

What tension there is builds when the real Russell family, in the personal of sister Emily (Cordelia Richards), fails to hear that their loved one has successfully arrived at her destination. A letter is sent, but it is too late. Emily sends a detective, Walter Downs (Thomas Jane), to Cuba to find her sister and follows close behind. When "Julia" hears of the detective's arrival, she vanishes into the night. Oh, she's cleaned out Luis' bank accounts as well, which he had legally entitled her to do. Thus, no crime has been committed, unless breaking a rich man's heart is considered a criminal act in Cuba. Luis will pursue her across the length and breadth of the land, though it isn't the money that he wants. It is the love. oy.

Emily comes and goes. Downs has a miserable habit of showing up at the most inauspicious times, usually about the time Luis finds his wife. Julia runs. Luis tracks her down. Murders are committed. Luis' world goes to hell in a handbasket. Original Sin attempts to run so many scams and plot twists by you that it may have worked if the director's pace were not so lackadaisical. Our reaction -- Who bloody well cares?

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Original Sin, he would have paid . . .


You might care about Original Sin if you are prone to them bookstop novels. We're not. If you must see our stars in the altogether, rent.

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