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Original Sin

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Original Sin

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie
Director: Michael Cristofer
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Erotica, Suspense

*Also starring: Thomas Jane, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Allison Mackie, Joan Pringle, Jack Thompson

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

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 thrills.

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

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