Original Sin

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/08/2001

One out of five stars
Running time: 116 mins

Abysmal attempt at an erotic thriller that even the frequent bouts of equal-opportunity nudity can’t redeem.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘One star? How can a movie in which Angelina Jolie spends a large amount of time naked only merit one star?’ Indeed, even the poster for the film features her half-naked – they might just as well have called it ‘Angelina Jolie: Naked’ and left it at that.

It would still be awful, though, obviously. At any rate, something went wrong somewhere, because what must have seemed a sure-fire winner on paper died a swift death at the U.S box office and –if there’s any justice- will soon be disappearing from a screen near you over here.

The plot starts ridiculously and speeds downhill from there. Antonio Banderas plays Luis Vargas, a wealthy 19th century Cuban businessman who doesn’t believe in love, but would like a wife and heirs, so he answers an ad in a newspaper and ends up with mail-order bride Julia Russell (Angelina Jolie).

No sooner are they married, however, than she ups and disappears, taking all his cash with her. (Tsk. These mail-order brides, eh? You can’t trust them. Etc.) A distraught Banderas (he loves her, see?) hires Thomas Jane’s sleazy detective to find her and soon discovers she has a closet that’s literally bursting with skeletons.

It’s probably safe to say that the film-maker’s intentions were good. Money has obviously been spent on the sets and the period detail, and the script is adapted from a pulp novel by Cornell Woolrich, whose work formed the basis of many a top-notch 1940s crime thriller.

Sadly, however, the script is incredibly tedious and the acting just flat-out bad, with the overall effect being like one of those made-for-cable softcore flicks that turn up on Channel 5 (only without the luxury of the pause button for, erm, tea-making excursions).

To be fair, some of it borders on the ‘so bad it’s good’ line, such as this amusing exchange: Banderas: "I just killed a man!" Jolie: "Yes. And I just bought a hat".

Another similarly laughable scene involves a poker game in which Jolie "secretly" signs the contents of the other player’s hands to Banderas, using The World’s Most Obvious Hand-Signals. (Not surprisingly, he gets beaten up shortly afterwards).

None of this compares to the awfulness of her climactic scenes though – by that point you’re physically willing the film to end. All this would be fine if the sex scenes themselves were in any way notable or erotic, but that’s simply not the case.

The producers should take careful note: nudity alone just isn’t enough. If it’s an erotic thriller in an exotic location you’re after, then check out the similarly-themed Naked Tango on video.

Otherwise, you’d be advised to leave this well alone. Besides, all the sex scenes will be on the internet by now anyway…

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Content updated: 15/12/2019 06:52

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