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ORIGINAL SIN (R, and they’re not kidding)
Official Site
Director: Michael Cristofer
Producers: Denise Di Novi, Kate Guinzburg, Carol Lees
Written by: Cornell Woolrich (from the novel, “Waltz Into Darkness”); Michael Cristofer
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie, Thomas Jane

Rating: out of 5

Well, well, well. Segments of ORIGINAL SIN will leave you flushed and breathless. This entry in the category of erotica in exotic locales is reminiscent of 1993’s WIDE SARGASSO SEA. It’s a period piece where women wear clothes that require lots of undoing. It’s set in the Caribbean, and it’s steamy as all hell, and I’m not talking about the weather.

Cuban coffeehouse owner Louis (Banderas) has sent away to America for a mail-order bride of sober character who will bear him children. He goes to meet her boat carrying a daguerreotype of a plain, earnest-looking young woman, Miss Julia Russell. But the Julia who awaits him at the dock is none other than Angelina Jolie, who explains that she did not wish a husband who favored her only for her looks. Louis then explains that he lied when he wrote claiming to be a mere coffeehouse clerk, not wishing to be wed solely for his fortune. These two pretty, pretty people get married that very night. The “wedding night” follows comes later, out of respect for the modesty of the bride, and they prepare to live happily ever after.

Based on the novel, Waltz into Darkness, by twisty genius Cornell Woolrich (author of great pulp reads like The Black Curtain, Black Alibi, The Black Path of Fear, and The Bride Wore Black—sense a trend?—not to mention I Married a Dead Man, and “Rear Window”), ORIGINAL SIN just doesn’t believe in the fairy tale of love. Though clearly a scorching couple in the boudoir, the newlyweds quickly plunge into a maelstrom of deceit, double-dealing, and identity-switching of an almost Alistair Macleanian level.

What this movie does right: Sex. One way or another, ORIGINAL SIN is all about the skin game, and the sex scenes here had to be snipped to avoid an NC-17 rating. This isn’t the best sex work Banderas has done (please see TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!), but it’s nice to see that the boy’s still got it. (But I almost got whiplash, since the last movie I saw him in was the family-friendly SPY KIDS.) Too bad the director abandoned what are clearly the film’s biggest assets—hot-looking actors with chemistry and his own undeniable talent as a director of soft-core—and forged ahead into jumbled storytelling and cheap melodrama. To their credit, Banderas and Jolie play it all with style.

But you already know if this is for you. If the TV ads for the movie look good to you, if you want to see it—and I did—you won’t be disappointed.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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