Sinners Repent!

The new Banderas/Jolie film is, sadly, neither original nor sinful.

Developed along the lines of classic film noir, "Original Sin" succeeds not so much on storyline as on star power. An otherwise fairly ordinary story of lust and revenge, it's the combined acting prowess of Antonio Banderas and Angeline Jolie that makes this one memorable.

In "Original Sin", Banderas is Louis Durand, an 18th-century coffee baron who, eager to have children, puts an ad in the paper for a wife. Among the front-runners: Julia Russell (Jolie), a beautiful American with a mysterious past, who steals Durand's heart. Before long, the two are married, and Russell has been given access to his bulging coffers. Which is just about the time she decides to do a runner with all of Durand's money. Durand sets off after her, desperate to recover both his money and his wife; along the way, he comes face to face with her past, which has some nasty surprises hidden in it.

So far, so good - the story thus far holds the viewer's attention, and even holds out the hope of turning into something truly unique. This, however, is where director Michael Cristofer, seems to lose his way - the ensuing events are somewhat unbelievable, and fail to pull the viewer into the story. While Jolie and Banderas are both good, they somehow fail to get under the skin of their respective characters, making t hard for the audience to empathize with either. The conclusion, though startling, lacks punch, purely on account of these two flaws; a tighter script and greater commitment on the cast's part would have tilted the balance in the other direction.

This article was first published on 10 Nov 2001.