Original Sin (2001)

MICHAEL CRISTOFER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.

France/USA, 2001.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Hyde Park Entertainment, Via Rosa Productions, DiNovi Pictures, Intermedia Films, UGC International, Epsilon Motion Pictures.  Screenplay by Michael Cristofer, based on the novel Waltz Into Darkness by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

 and  star as cursed lovers who meet when she arrives at his plantation on a Caribbean island as a mail-order bride.  Expecting a plainer woman, Antonio is thrilled that his new wife is a kickass babe, and is so kind a guy as to not expect her to perform her wifely duties on the first night after they are married. She, of course, is happy to have the Latin lover of the 20th century for a husband, so that bridge is quickly crossed without much difficulty. Pretty soon Antonio finds himself unable to distinguish between alternating feelings of love and lust for his new bride, so naturally he allows her full access to his bank account. Unfortunately, suspicions begin to be aroused about her actual identity: stories start to conflict, witnesses start to appear, and Antonio’s sister-in-law shows up to give evidence of her sister’s never having returned her letters. Is Angelina who she says she is? If not, what happened to the real bride? The original film upon which this one is based, Mississippi Mermaid starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve (both adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich), was a fascinating little thriller about a man caught in a spiderweb of strong feelings for a complicated woman. Here, the writers play up the plot movements beyond the initial “big” revelation and go so far in making Jolie’s character sympathetic that they sap out the story’s potential emotional impact. The stars have a fair amount of chemistry between them, but the leaden direction by Michael Cristofer (who led Jolie to a Golden Globe for her work in Gia) provides for more boredom than titillation. The costumes are stunning and the musical score deliciously exotic, capped off by a great theme song by Gloria Estefan, but all in all this is just one big bore.

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