Have you heard the one about the mail order bride? A man with Antonio
Banderas's looks feels the need to order his bride via the post office.
Although he picks a homely woman, he gets a gorgeous one with Angelina
Jolie's raw sexuality instead. Not objecting to the bait-and-switch, he
decides that she's a keeper.
Michael Cristofer's ORIGINAL SIN, a film which could spark a rebirth in the
mail order bride business with men hoping to hit a Jolie jackpot, is a
costume drama sans any real drama. Set in what appears to be late
nineteenth century Cuba, it is a story of love, deception and revenge
starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie as less than star-crossed
lovers Louis Durand and Julia Russel. Julia, in voice-over, explains, "No,
this is not a love story, but a story about love." With lush settings,
handsome costumes and beautiful actors, the film does have some rewards, the
plot not being one of them. You'll soon guess where the story is going, but
you won't care.
Those purchasing tickets in hopes of seeing a guilty pleasure will likely be
disappointed. As Louis and Julia engage in open-mouth kissing, they smack
loudly like a couple of preschoolers woofing down greasy hamburgers. And in
their one substantial sex scene, they look like kids playing the game of
Twister, in which you contort your body into various bizarre combinations in
order to cover certain squares on the game's floor mat.
Don't be shocked, but Julia isn't faithful. One of her lovers marks his
territory, not with urine, but by opening her mouth and spitting in it.
Maybe this is the original sin to which the title refers. It's certainly
one that I haven't heard of before.
Of the many over-the-top moments in the picture, my favorite happens when
Louis comes riding at full gallop straight towards the audience. The editor
speeds up the film so that it looks rather like a scene from an old Keystone
Cops comedy. It's one of many unintentionally funny moments.
"I love it, even the cheap melodrama," Julia says of the theater. Well, I
suspect that the only people who will love this melodrama will be those who
enjoy it as something like an illustrated version of a Harlequin romance
novel. Don't go, however, if you're looking for substance or for cheap
ORIGINAL SIN runs a long 1:56. It is rated R for "strong sexual content and
some violence" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes