Original Sin (2001) (R)

Review Date: August 3rd, 2001

A wealthy Cuban businessman learns that you don't always get what you pay for in this sexy, silly thriller.


Luis Vargas (Antonio Banderas) pooh-poohs the notion of love--it's simply not for him. Instead, he sends away for an American bride to serve as a good wife, mother to his children, and status symbol. But when Julia Russell (Angelina Jolie) steps off the boat, the poor guy doesn't know what hit him (maybe it was her lips). Soon everything Luis thinks he knows about love flies out the window as her womanly wiles overwhelm him and he falls utterly and completely under her spell, deeper in love and lust than he ever thought possible. But just as the couple is enjoying wedded bliss, whaddya know…along comes a private eye (Thomas Jane) to alert Luis of some shady details about his new bride. Like, she might just be an impostor who killed his true intended on the boat ride over.


OK, Banderas playing a wealthy Latin lover ain't much of a stretch. We'll take it anyway. Waltzing at his wedding, wandering through crop fields, speeding away on his trusty steed, naked in bed…OK, OK, back to the review. Playing dark is Jolie's forte, but here she postures rather than acts, punctuating every scene with her distracting pout. Turgid dialogue (''I come to keel you!'') and overblown scenarios smack of embarrassing soap opera silliness (after Julia steals him blind, a wild-eyed Luis shows up in her hotel room with desperate threats and his gun, only to bed the lass and mock her new lover in the morning). With their zero chemistry together, all you end up thinking is what did Melanie think, particularly during their practically pornographic sex scene that exploits every orgasmic cliché in the book right down to the two-backed beasts' fingers gripping the sheets in ecstasy.


The film is absolutely gorgeous to look at--exquisite costumes, locations and props are a joy. That said, this film--directed by Michael Cristofer, who reunites with Jolie after the Emmy-winning HBO movie Gia--stinks. Cristofer must honestly have thought this was going to make a juicy, edge-of-your-seat thriller, because that's how he filmed it--lots of quick cuts and slo-mo effects used for no reason, lingering reaction close-ups, mysterious characters wafting in and out. It's laughable (''I just killed a man,'' Luis groans. ''I just bought a hat,'' Julia replies), then gets even more laughable (Julia gets gang-raped--willingly--by some poker players after the couple was caught cheating), but you'll laugh loudest during the scene when the detective kisses Luis full on the mouth. Unfortunately Sin totally avoids camp, and the end result is a pompous, dull and self-important movie where the props are entirely more interesting than the story.

Bottom Line:

Luis didn't get what he paid for--and moviegoers won't either.