Reviewed by: Carole McDonnell
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
|Featuring:||Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie, Thomas Jane, Jack Thompson, Gregory Itzin|
|Producer:||Carol Lees, Denise DiNovi, Kate Guinzburg|
It is quite difficult for a movie to be silly, boring and sexually offensive all at the same time, but “Original Sin” succeeds. In fact, “Original Sin” is quite frankly, the silliest movie I have seen this year. Perhaps, the silliest I’ve seen in my life. We learn early on in the movie that “it is not a love story, it is a story about love.” We even get definitions telling us the difference between love and lust. Love gives. Lust takes. Okay, fine! But if we are to believe what this movie says, not only is a true lover unable to withstand the power of love, love also makes people quite stupid.
The Lover is represented by turn-of-the century Cuban coffee-planter, Luis Vargas (Antonio Banderas). Handsome, rich and noble, Luis is hard put to find in Cuba a wife “who looks to the future”. He advertises for a wife in a Baltimore paper. The ad is answered by beautiful, seemingly demure, Julia Russell (Angelina Jolie.) Julia knows how to become the object of love/lust for just about any man. She knows just how to play with the emotions of the smitten Luis. While the audience can see through this woman, Luis is blind. And before you can say, “Watch out!” Luis is being set up. it’s about this time that the movie begins its slow spiral downward. I won’t tell you about the plot twists because I don’t want to deprive you of the pleasure you might get at guessing them.
I will tell you, however, that you will spend a great amount of your time looking at your watch and wishing the movie would end. Let’s face it: The movies abound with innocent sincere rich men in search of true love who inevitably get suckered by a gorgeous money-loving woman. And these films often move us. In films like “Dream Lover” or the masterpiece, “Days of Heaven”, we actually care about these loser rich guys. But we don’t care about Luis. Noble lover or not, he is too dumb to be respected.
In fact, none of the characters in “Original Sin” are worthy of our respect. Maybe it’s the acting. Antonio Banderas is supposed to be a passionate but doomed lover. He comes off as merely stupid and adolescent. Angelina’s character is not even a true villainess; she is only a victimized puppet, a woman who doesn’t believe she is lovable. In the end, she believes that she is truly loved but she hasn’t changed much. And Billie… Ah yes, Billie, our villain. He is plainly supposed to represent lust. Unfortunately, he seems utterly unreal. His kinkiness is the kind of kinkiness one finds in novels. Its weird sexuality for weirdness’ sake. And granted all evil nowadays is fairly banal. But Billie’s evil doesn’t affect the viewer. We neither hate nor fear him. He makes us giggle because no one like Billie has ever existed on the face of this Earth.
The film fairly brims with sex—marital, flaky and otherwise. One guy plants a big kiss on another’s mouth. Why? I suppose because it’s there. The movie seems to be saying that love endures everything for the beloved. It gives and gives and gives. But surely there is some discernment in all this giving. Surely those who love should have a conscience… let alone a mind. Surely passionate love stops short at attempted suicide. Someone ought to have told Luis that there is a vast difference between love and masochism. In the end, the hero loses his nobility and becomes a liar and a cheat. Ah the transforming power of love! don’t see this movie. Save your money.