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Original Sin (unrated version)

In an Olympic bout of brooding, pouting and preening Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas star in Original Sin (2001), a turgid thriller enraptured by its own sense of purple melodrama. Banderas plays Luis Vargas, the wealthy owner of a thriving coffee plantation in turn-of-the-century Cuba. A cynic in matters of love, he sends away to America for a plain wife, someone qualified to run a house, raise children and not complicate his life with unnecessary beauty or emotion. Instead, he gets Jolie — a mysterious knockout with a secret past. Mysterious knockouts never bode well for happiness, and it doesn't take long for this marriage-by-mail to turn from a passionate tryst into a game of death and deceit. From the very beginning, Original Sin teeters on the brink of gleeful camp (sample dialogue: "No, this is not a love story, but it is a story about love," "You were married to a dream — a dream that stole your soul!") but it's never clever enough to make a clean jump from its mediocre formula roots, settling for simply obvious rather than enjoyably contrived plot twists. However, fetishists of both Jolie and Banderas will get their money's worth: From the opening close-up of Jolie's swollen chops, Original Sin wisely exploits the overexposed sexuality of its marquee players, culminating in the unrated version's steamy sex scenes, including ample footage of Jolie's bare chest and multiple shots of writhing Bander-ass. The best part of the film is Terence Blanchard's evocative Cuban score. Adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich, who also wrote the source story for Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window. MGM's Original Sin DVD offers a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is terrific. Includes a commentary by director Michael Cristofer, the Gloria Estefan music video "You Can't Walk Away From Love," an animated photo gallery, and a trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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